Thursday, December 23, 2010

The best birthday ever!

I am writing this post on what is quite possibly the best gift my loving husband and daughter have ever given me. In order to understand my glee, you will likely need a little history as it relates to the gifting habits of our family. Steve invariably asks for some technology gadget, despite the fact that he is only marginally technologically capable. Usually I get him what he wants, and spend a couple of days after Christmas setting it up for him and teaching him the basics. He learns enough to make the whatever work, and then asks me for help every time he gets stuck for the next year or so. And all the while, I am secretly wishing the nifty gadget belonged to me. This year, though, he s
Really really surprised me. For my birthday, he got me a very nice piece of technology that I have been covetting almost from the moment I saw it. I just could not justify the purchase. But, Steve and Sarah got me one for my birthday!

Yes, my friends, I have joined the masses of iPad users. I have only had it in my hands for about 6 hours, and I am sure I have only barely scratched the surface of what this little thing can do, but already I am infatuated. I am going to have to put it down to knit, because all but five of my booties have sold, so I need to replenish my stock. But for the short term, this toy is one of the best distractions I could have hoped for. I have a wonderfully thoughtful family. Now, I am going to go watch a movie with my family. I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed holiday.

Water works

There are miracles!  The water is working at our house again.  The only problem is our cold water side of the kitchen sink no longer works.  So we only have hot water in the kitchen.  So Annmarie and I went to the dreaded Home Depot today and picked up a new kitchen faucet.  This one has a movable spray nozzle.  That will make it fairly easy to clean out the sink.
I went over to Stanfield last week and paid the mobile slaughter and processing company.  Our lamb carcass weighed in at 65 pounds.  We ended up with 4 leg of lamb packages (we have the legs cut in 1/2, a whole is too much for us), 36-3/4 inch thick lamb chops, 12-3/4 inch shoulder chops and 10 1/2 pounds of stew meat (we have it packaged in 1 1/2 pound packages).  It all fits in a small cardboard box, the size you would use to move books in.  We are going to eat some next week.  The old whether's, we had turned into stew meat, carcass weight was 81#.  So we are good for the next year when you add in the 1/4 beef we just got also.  We already had one lamb in the freezer here at the house.  It costs $100 to have the sheep killed, cut and wrapped to your specifications.  So now we will start hunting out customers for our lambs as they get to the desired size.  We have one lamb ready now.  I think I have him sold already.  We will try and buy a few more ewes next year.  I would like to have 15 ewes by the end of next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How do toilets flush?

How do toilets flush?  Any guy will tell you that flushing is optional that is what the great outdoors is for.  Now any woman will tell you that going outside to pee in the middle of Winter is not a pleasant experience, especially without an outhouse.  So early this morning as I was outside with the dogs "watering the lawn" I was then instructed to fetch the holy water to flush the toilet.  I went out to the shed and gathered up two five gallon buckets and went to the back creek and filled one full and the other half full.  Lugged them inside the house and placed them inside the tub.  Now we have four toilet flushes ready to go.  They (the women) have already used two flushes.  Hopefully, (the plan is to) have the water line redug and all new line placed in the orchard today.  So when I show up from work tomorrow the water will have magically returned.  Absolutely amazing!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Water, you either love it or need it.

I woke up this morning at 0445 to our chocolate lab ringing the bell to go outside and go potty.  I had not kenneled her when I went to bed because she looked so comfortable on her dog bed (I had forgotten about having to get up and let her out so early).  So naturally, since I was awake I used the bathroom, flushed the toilet and being thirsty went to get a drink of water from the sink.  Just a tiny trickle of water came out of the sink.  I knew this was bad, but come on, it isn't even five in the morning and it is still dark outside.  I went back to bed and did not tell Annmarie about it until she woke up at 0530.  We waited for Donna, mother-in-law, to call saying there was a problem.  She called before Annmarie was ready to call there.  When the pump guys came out to the houses we walked all over the orchard looking for water to surface.  We couldn't find anything.  Now it was kind of difficult in the middle of the orchard due to the fact that the front creek was still diverted out of the ditch.  We didn't get the ditch dug out or the culvert bank repaired this year.  Will need to make it a priority next year along with the rest of the fencing, the barn and some more fencing.
So Annmarie and I pulled out the tarp diverting water and filled in the two small channels diverting water into the orchard.  Then we dug out about 20 feet of the ditch next to the channels to make the water flow faster.  Nothing like a ton of water vegetation and some decomposed cow crap.  Smelled wonderful!  We were hoping the water would dry up and we could spot the leak in the orchard.  No go.
Since we couldn't find the leak they went off to get a small backhoe to start digging holes in the orchard.  Annmarie's brother came out to tell the guys were to dig.  They went across the orchard in an attempt to catch the pipe faster.  They ended up digging four trenches and about 60% of the width of the orchard before finding the pipe.  Matt, kept telling them to dig over near the ditch.  It turns out that it is actually in the back half of the orchard and is not in a straight line between the houses.  (In Matt's defense he was 10 years old when he saw the line go in.)  Now the fact that Matt had water witched three different water spots prior to them digging and one of them was the actual water line, but Matt repeatedly told the repair guys it "could not be that spot, dig closer to the ditch".
They capped the line to see if the leak was on our side.  It was.  So they came up to the house and dug right outside our fence.  I knew were the pipe was (so I thought).  They found it (it was only three feet to the left of where I said it would be).  There were lots of roots so it was hard to tell when they hit the pipe, it ripped out an eight foot chunk of pipe from under the fence into our yard.  They capped the line again and pressurized it. The leak is in the orchard.  So I had to move a couple hundred bricks I had stacked next to the fence to make room to repair the line in our yard.
I also went out and worked on the chicken coop during this fiasco.  They didn't have any food, so I fed them, cleaned up the coop, raked the deep litter and added another 80# of wood pellets, raked up the feathers and generally straightened things out.  I used almost 70# of food just to fill my two feeders.  I dumped another 80 pounds in to the food trash can (metal can to keep the mice out of the feed).  I think I am going to start counting the bags as they go into the food trash can and keep it filled.  That way I don't lose track of how much feed I am using for the chickens.
Since I am on a chicken rant, remember those fancy chickens that were supposed to lay blue eggs?  I had to get straight run (unsexed) chicks because they were just that cool.  Not so much.  The damn things are laying GREEN eggs!!!  I don't care what they look like, if they lay a green egg then they are an Easter Egger chicken.  So I am going to give up the blue egg dream for a while.  The next breed I get is going to be Brahma.  Oh well... I was really looking forward to those blue eggs...

Monday, December 13, 2010

catching up on the table

When we moved into the house I uncovered an old table out in the old house.  It was buried under trash, tools and junk.  I found what I thought were leafs for the table over in a corner.  I showed it to Annmarie and we decided to refinish it and put it in our dining room.  Well, three years later the table is finally in the house.

  Sarah and I brought it in just before Thanksgiving.  Our holiday company glued one of the feet back together (amazingly I found the broken off piece while cleaning out the junk of the old house and saved it).  So today I started cleaning it up.  (Annmarie didn't think it needed to stay upside down on the floor for longer than 3 weeks...).  I vacuumed all the cobwebs from the underside, set it upright and installed all the leafs.  It ended up being a pretty big table!  I then took some Murphy's wood soap and a scrub pad and went to town on the top of the table for a couple of hours.  I will let it dry now and then go to steel wool so I can get everywhere.

  I figure to work on it about 30 minutes a night.   Once I get it all cleaned and smoothed out then we can decide on a color and finish.  I really like the Formsby brand but it is not as readily available as it used to be.  They sell a prepackaged kit now, but I liked buying the individual products better.  They had the best wood furniture cleaner for getting out 100 years of grime.  It was great stuff, green colored product.  The table is still wet in this picture.  It will look more like this when it is finished.  If I took the picture of it dry it would be far more washed out.
I didn't work on the legs very hard.  They need to be sanded some to smooth out the cracks and dings.  My rag kept catching the whole time I was trying to clean them.  I was peeking out the side window looking for the heating repair guy (yes our central heat is not working.  The fan is not running.  Good thing it is 45 degrees F outside right now.) and spotted a group of pheasants next to the house.  I tried to take an action shot of them flying once the dog realized they were there.  All I ended up with was a couple of blurry pictures.  No such luck.  I did get a couple of decent stills of them rooting around in the grass.
They knew they would be safe close to the house.  I am not even sure if the season is over.  I suspect it is.  I went out one time and missed my big chance.

November chicken financials

I made -$3.68 for the month on an average 27 hens laying (all my hens are now in except for the blue layers and they are now five months old, so in one more months they should start laying very blue eggs!!). (for the year my net income is -$9.56/month. (For the year I am-$105.20 total).  I had $49.86 in expenses for feed (250#) this month (all my expenses this month were in food).  For the year, my monthly expenses are $70.02. We collected a total of 389 usable eggs (31 more than last month) averaging 12.5 eggs/day collected (for the year the average is 12.1). The chickens ate 0.64#food/egg (for the year are averaging 0.64#/egg) In November it cost $0.13/egg or $1.56/doz for feed (my yearly average is $0.14/egg or $1.68/dozen. This is starting to creep up due to my feed costs increasing).  As an added bonus the two quail have laid 12 eggs this month (2 when we got them).  I am storing and collecting all the quail eggs so I can make pickled quail eggs.  I looked at recipes over the weekend but only had 21 eggs in the fridge and the smallest amount I could make is 2 dozen.  It is kinda complicated, you have to soak the eggs in vinegar after you boil them to soften the shells to make them easy to peel.  Who knew.  Anyway, I should have enough this month to make them on my next weekend off.  They have to sit for at least 2 weeks after you make them.  
I really need to get out to the coop and kill off some roosters.  I need to kill five roosters this month.  That will leave only the Ameracauna roosters.  So I can hopefully get some of those blue eggs hatched and continue to have chickens that lay blue eggs.  We will see.  I just need some blue eggs and a broody chicken.  I am going to take the broody hen and place her in a separate dog kennel in the back with the eggs and her own water and food.  That way she cannot jump ship to another laying box with different eggs.  The only eggs she will be able to sit on will be the ones in the kennel.  
I have not had any more chickens killed.  We lock them up every night.  I haven't been setting the live trap.  Will have to start that up as the weather gets bad.  
On a side note, Annmarie thinks she heard some wolves howling last week.  One of the gals she works with said she saw one out here also.  So we will keep our ears to the ground and see if we can get some official verification of that and let you all know.  


new sheep

Friday was a whirlwind day for us.  We dropped our child off to help with housework at her Grandmother's house (she is getting paid ) and drove to Baker City, Oregon to pick up five new barbados cross sheep (hair sheep) from a gal over there who had been using them to train her border collie.  The sheep are supposed to be around 3 months old.  Once we got on top of Cabbage Hill the snow on the road started to appear.  It is no wonder people run off the road.  They act like they are invincible and just speed on by.  We met at a gas station in Baker City (it used to just be called Baker, but they changed the name, go figure).  When the gal showed up she had all five sheep in a calf crate.  I figured the crate would be packed with sheep, nope.  They are tiny sheep!!  Only weigh about 20-25# each.  They also have sore mouth.  The lady was very apologetic and offered to drive them over later once it was healed up.  I had no clue what it was.  Annmarie told me it was a virus and typically goes away.  The lady had treated it with iodine that morning.  Basically, it is the same virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease was what I got out of it.
So we took the sheep and vowed to put them in a separate area.  She had been keeping them in a pen outside so the sheep were used to no shelter.  It was pouring down snow now of course and the restroom on the highway was closed and I missed the only turnoff to LaGrande.  So Annmarie really had to pee.  At the bottom of Cabbage Hill we stopped at the Arrowhead Truck Stop.  I gassed up while waiting for Annmarie.  As we were pulling out of the gas station heading toward the stop sign we head someone honking.  We looked around but didn't see anybody so we pulled up to the stop sign.  More honking ensued and I saw a truck pull in behind us.  We got out and some gentleman came out and asked us if those were Barbados sheep?  We went in to our story and plan and he tells us that he raises Barbados Blackbelly sheep and lives in Pendleton.  Not only that he would only charge us $50 for a small ewe and he has a ram occasionally so we can diversify our bloodlines when necessary.  So he gave us a card so we could get out of the way (we were blocking traffic and the cars were starting to line up).
I asked if Annmarie wanted Chinese or Mexican food in Pendleton.  She wanted Chinese.  So as we are entering town she changes her mind and states she wants Mexican.  So we go down to the Mexican restaurant order food and eat.  One of the cooks comes out and asks if we have sheep in the pickup (someone must have told him, there was a new cook who had just arrived and they had been talking in Spanish).  We told him yes, he asked to go look at them and then came in and asked if we would sell any.  We said yes again and gave him our name and number.  We said we would charge $50 for a 20-30# animal. This was the weight range he was looking at.  We also told him we had a bigger weather at the house if he was interested.
He hasn't called yet, but the new sheep have settled in nicely.  They are pretty skittish around the dogs.  I finally had to yell at Sprout to quit running through them.  He knows better than to chase the sheep, but these are so skittish that if ran in front of them they scatter.  After three times, I had to tell him to knock it off.
So it looks like we can get a few more ewes this next year locally.  Will be nice to not have to drive a long ways away.  It was kind of funny the way things kept falling in place for the day.  Sometimes it just works.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Outside catching up

Annmarie had a whole list of things for me to do today.  All of them outside in the freezing cold.  Her number one concern was the back fence.  The back creek had started to dam up against my fence.   This is not good and could lead to the water tearing down my entire fence.  So I needed to get out there and dig out the tumbleweeds and leaves and raise the panels above the water level.  I had every intention of just going outside and doing that this morning, but I got distracted.
I found someone on Craigslist selling hair sheep over the weekend.  Annmarie called them and arranged for us to purchase and transport them home this up coming Saturday.  We got a good deal $60/each.  They are still teenagers.  I believe they are only 3 months old.  At 6 months old they go into estrus.  Now the problem with this is we still do not have  trailer.  Plus, the racks on our pickup were pretty bad, so I have been slowly taking them apart to use as wire tighteners in the fence I have been building during the Summer.  Luckily for me, I slowed down on the fence building and there was still uprights in the pickup bed to build onto.  So another one of my jobs for today was to build new racks for the sheep, plus the lady selling us the sheep was worried about the cold and weather so it needed a cap to keep the weather out.  Sarah reminded me this morning that we needed another feeder for the sheep and wouldn't it be nice if the feeder was just under the open window where the baby enclosures were.
So I went into the barn leanto and moved the baby enclosures and drug another feeder from the other end of the barn into the sheep area.  I re stacked the hay to get it away from the open window and filled the feeder from all the loose hay on the ground.  I scavenged the wire doors from the front of the baby enclosures for the back of the pickup.  Next I went to the old granary and dug around inside for some scrap wood.  I ended up cutting a large chunk of conveyor belt (made out of wood, canvas and leather) to use as the walls.  I pulled the pickup into the yard so I would have easy access to power and began my new pickup racks.  I added a four foot deep lid made out of two pieces of OSB with a blue tarp sandwiched between them.
 Who really knows where the conveyor belt came from?  It was probably some old combine but I don't know for sure.  It was just sitting there not doing anything.  Eventually, I am going to use up all those old things and go wanting.  But at least they will have had a second life.

Now nothing goes this smoothly.  I had to take a break before building the racks to cut down a pine tree (the chain saw was on the old house porch in my way).  So I fired up the chainsaw, it was fairly easy, and it died.  No gas, so I filled the gas and oil and fired it up again.  I went over to the tree, decided my plan of attack (the tree needed to fall into the orchard not our yard or on the house, of course it was leaning toward the back creek) and started cutting.  I would have made more progress with a butter knife.  After five minutes I had to stop and go sharpen the chain saw blade (another 30 minute operation) and then reattempt cutting the tree down.  It took me 3 tries to get the notch right and then when I came in from the backside the tree fell just where I wanted it to go.  I guess all that hard manual labor cutting firewood as a kid paid off.
So after finishing the pickup rack I went out to lock the chickens up and every door was wide open.  So as I am closing the door inside the coop that goes to the supply room (my chicken supplies and food and access to all the nest boxes is in a separate room that the chickens cannot get to.  I hear frantic scrabbling, some of the kittens are inside the coop.  So I had to leave the inside door open so they could get out.  I did lock the chicken yard gate down so the cats will have to spend the night with the chickens.  If they don't like the chickens then they will be a little more careful tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Back creek running

I looked out the back kitchen window at lunch and noticed the back creek was running.  This is very bad.  The back creek is a runoff creek only.  It normally runs from late February to June.  It is December and it is running.  This is a first for us in the last three years.  That means we are way too warm.  It has been over freezing for the last three days and we have had a chinook wind come in and melt all of the snow away.  The really bad part is my new fence had to be improved over the creek to keep the sheep from escaping.  If the water is going to keep running I need to go out and prop the panels up out of the water so my fence doesn't get ripped out.  That would be very very bad.  So I really hope it gets another 15 degrees colder so this problem goes away.  I have been on vacation for two weeks so I have been unable to get my cheap chicken food, so tomorrow I will have to pick up some expensive food for the chickens.  They are almost out.  I keep hearing the coyotes at night howling and carrying on the last few nights.  So far we have not forgotten to lock up the chickens and I have not lost any in a while.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Craft Closet

While Steve and Doug played with wood, Linda and I played with fiber and loaded in my new craft closet. This is the absolutely most decadent thing I've ever had in my house. A complete closet fully and totally dedicated to organizing the supplies for my various hobbies. I ask you, does it really get much better than this?

We'll start with the doors neatly closed to protect all my supplies from cats and dogs.
Now, let's open up the left side.
I think my favorite thing on this end is that all of my knitting needles are organized by length and out where I can see and find them easily. The lower baskets hold some of my scrapbooking supplies, and my papers are currently stacked flat on the floor in bags. I'll get some holders for the papers soon. Large cutting items are on the shelf above.

We'll move one section to the right to look in the middle left.

Here you can see that I actually even have some empty baskets for expansion. See, my stash still has a little room to grow (just don't tell Steve). At the top, you can see part of the shelf that is dedicated to my crafting books. Most of these are knitting books, and my library is pitifully small, but most of my patters are my own, so I don't feel too badly about that. I have a request in for a couple of additions for my Birthday and Christmas. Hopefully the elves will be paying attention.

If we move one section to the right, we see the rest on my bookshelf and the beginnings of my fiber.
There's quite a variety visible here. There's a lot of acrylic that was gifted to me, an unfinished cross-stitch baby blanket, some serger cones that were also gifts, and my stash of crochet cotton. Now, I don't crochet at that gage, but the stuff works great for tablet weaving, and is perfect for teaching that craft, so I've got a stash. Besides, you never know when you might need a little smooth thread to hold knitting stitches.

One more section to the right, and we get to the bulk of my fiber stash.

I've again got quite a variety, but there's some very nice alpaca, and some wool-silk blends in lace weight, and some sock yarn, and some baby yarn, and some Cascade 220 for felted slippers. The important thing, though, is that it's all out and visible so I can easily see what's there. It's kind of like having my own private yarn shop in the bedroom.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Deep sink enclosure done

We had company during the Thanksgiving holiday, Doug and Linda.  As always we truly enjoyed the visit.  Doug always helps me with a project when they come.  This year we finished the cabinet for the deep sink in the utility room.  We made it out of tongue and groove oak flooring.  It took us a day, but turned out very nice.  Now I only have to order the drain and the faucet and get the plumber to come set the sink.  Of course I will need to bring the 150# sink into the house and clean it out (it has been on the old house porch for three years).  This sink was the very first thing I ever bought for the house.  I purchased it before I did anything on the house.  It just never got installed because there was no cabinet.  The utility room had a deep sink in it before, but it was concrete and had several cracks in it.  It was not salvageable.
Annmarie and Linda got the craft closet all stocked up with yarn and various craft stuffs.  It looks great and surprisingly there was not as much yarn as I thought there would be.
Sink spot
Sides and back completed.  Just needs the front and the door. 

Here it is!!  I still need to add the hinges, door latch and finish the wood.  I added a large backsplash due to all the water damage that was on the wall from the old deep sink.  It turned out great.  The piece in the back is the door.  We made it moveable so we could pull it out and drop the sink in then attach it to the wall.  I will get the ball rolling on the parts we need to finish this so there will be no more egg washing in the kitchen sink or filling of animal waterers in the kitchen sink or washing of the dog.  The little things that annoy the wife!  lol.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It is officially Winter now

Well it only got to -6 here last night according to our thermometer (which is out of the wind and has brand new batteries in both the sensor and thermometer this month).  Add on the foot of snow we got in the last 2 days and it is official, Winter is here.  The lousy party about this cold is trying to keep the chickens watered.  Their water freezes up all the time because there is no heat in the coop.  The chickens don't need heat to survive that is why they have feathers.  The coop is watertight and insulated so the heat they do self generate does stay in the coop. With all this snow on the ground the chickens won't come outside the coop.  It makes for cramped living quarters inside.  They truly hate change.  Last year I shoveled a path out in the chicken yard for them so that they did not have to go into the deep snow.  It didn't help, they still stayed inside.  So this year I didn't bother yet.  The one good thing is the chickens will eat the snow for their water.  I have a heated dog bowl just outside for water, but the chickens won't go to it.  They eat the snow because it is closer and ignore the dog bowl.  So for now it is snow for water.
Unfortunately, this still complicates the quail thing.  I had a self waterer in the quail enclosure that was doing fine but -6 did not help it.  It was frozen solid.  So I added some hot water to it this morning and tonight we will have to change it out again.  This is going to be an issue for me if I add in more quail.  I will need power and a way to water them in the Winter next year.  I added hot water to the self nipple waterer inside for the chickens.  It had a small 1/8 inch ice film on top and that was it.  I was surprised at that but I manipulated the nipple underneath and could not get a drop of water to come out.  So I added a small 5 gallon fish tank heater to the five gallon bucket and plugged it in.  It sits down near the nipples at the bottom of the bucket.  I may need to take some duct tape and insulation and rig a wrap to go around the bucket.  The duct tape cover will keep the chickens from eating the insulation.
We have all started to pet the sheep when we feed them in the morning.  The two new teenage female ewes let me pet on them this morning while they were eating hay.  The new teenage ram, Lucky, would not let me touch him.  We need to get him tamed down.  Persistence on our part will pay off.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do you every wonder why?

Occasionally, I wonder why some creatures exist? I used to wonder this about snakes, but I've mostly gotten over that. Currently, however, I have been pondering this question in regards to yellow jackets and wasps. They aren't particularly good pollinators. Bees, humming birds, and butterflies are all much more effective, and they are all much more pleasant neighbors. What, you may be wondering, could have led to such questioning?

It all began on Monday. We'd been noticing quite a few insects attempting to escape the cooling temperatures by sharing our warm domicile. Now, I'm pretty tolerant of most insects as long as they remain outside. Inside, however, they are fair game. Things were getting pretty bad, so Steve set off bug bombs in the attic and the crawl space Monday morning. We figured this would eliminate the most likely populations trying to enter the house. Lat on Monday, we noticed a few listless refugees. We put them out of their misery anytime we saw them, and went blissfully to bed.

Tuesday morning, when I finally decided I needed to drag my carcass out of bed, I tossed on my robe, and headed down the hall to wake Sarah. About 2/3 of the way to her room, I felt a hot burning sensation in the middle toe of my left foot. Now, understand that I went most of my 40+ years without being stung by bee or yellow jacket. In fact, I've only been stung 4 times in my life, and all of them have been inside one house or another. And two of them were Tuesday morning. Yes, two dying little buggers had stung my toe. I'm screeching like a banshee, 'cause it hurts. I want to hop around and grab my foot, but I have no idea how many more of the little buggers might be around, because of course, we don't have lights in that hallway, and of course, I didn't have my glasses on nor my contacts in. And I really don't want to get my other foot stung too. Remember, I had just rolled out of bed, and hadn't been to any other room in the house yet. Any woman over 40 will understand what I'm not saying.

Steve of course, only hears me screeching, and comes running out of the bedroom to see what was killing me. Needless to say, I turn my ire on him, particularly since he insists on calling the offenders bees. These are not bees. They are good-for-nothing yellow jackets.

By this time, I'm in the bathroom taking care of the rest of the morning business, and trying to figure out how to make my poor throbbing toe feel better. I can't really find the sting, so a meat tenderizer paste is out. I finally decide that I'm just going to have to settle for ice. So, I cool it down for a little bit with and ice pack. At some point in there, Steve comes down and tells me he has killed a total of 7 bees. I inform him, perhaps a bit forcefully, that there are no *&^%&*) bees in this house. OK, perhaps I was still a bit irate and irritated. Fortunately for the state of our marriage, Steve thinks I'm cute when I'm angry, and once he started trying not to smile, I couldn't help it either, and the steam was all blown off.

Then he set off another bug bomb in the attic to kill the last of the stragglers. I'm still a bit leery of running around the house without at least slippers, but it's been three whole days now without any sightings, so I think I'm safe for a while.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Library is Done (new floor comes later)

I did it, I finished the library.  I am currently doing the happy dance even if you cannot see it.  I am way, way ahead of schedule.  The plan was to have it done, but I don't think Annmarie thought it was going to happen (I didn't really either, but I kept telling her it was "the plan".  My plans don't always (never) go as planned so she was surprised).  The light took forever to hang.  Lots of parts and they have to go in a certain order.  It is not too bad when you have lots of chain to hang the light from, but the ceiling is low so I only used one link.  It makes for a tight fit.  The instructions say to use two people.  The only one I did that with is the landing light, but that thing weighs in around 50# and is three feet across and three feet tall.  Far more than one person can hold and do 16 feet in the air.
I wiped down the closet doors and lubricated the door rollers.  I even put in new door guides.  Because the carpet is missing now and they had shortened the doors I had to put in a shim to hold the door guides at the right height.  Once the hardwood floor is in place I won't need that any more.  I put the end piece of pegboard in today and got it all primed and painted.

I even bug bombed under the house and in the attic today.  Sprout (Brussel Griffin dog) and I had to hang out in the car this morning.  We went to the hardware store to get bolts to install the light (it doesn't come with hanging bolts, big surprise there) and then we went to Pendleton to Sherwin Williams to get paint cards for Sarah.  She wants to paint her room.  Her initial color choices were purple and silver with a room size dragon on the wall.  We nixed that.  Second choice was silver and black.  I got her some color cards so she can make her third and fourth choice.  We are thinking about a black divider between a high and low color, but we want her to paint a piece of trim black and we can nail it in place.  No trying to cover over black at a later date.
Annmarie has decided I need to install the dining room light now that I appear to have some extra time before Thanksgiving.  I had to make a custom holder and shim out the ceiling for the living room light.  I told her I was actually going to have to take apart the living room light just to see how I did it.  It has been some time and it is working good, so I want to duplicate that effort.  I may have time this week.  No promises, but I will try.  Not sure what I am going to do if all the lights are installed (I still have to install the lights in the upstairs hallway and make the stair lights work).
Sarah took some pictures of the Sunset today.  She is getting very good at taking pictures.
Sunset from our front porch, Sarah took this photograph.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Library painted and outlets wired

Sarah and I  finished the painting today.  It turned out very nice.  I even had time to wire the outlets and light switch.  Of course the last outlet I wired is where the main power comes in to the room.  Now there was no reason for the power to be on so of course I did not check the breaker.  When I went to shorten the wires with my high dollar expensive cross cut pliers I melted them!  As I am hollering and swearing about that moron that flipped the breaker on (me months ago) Sarah hollers back that I am that moron (teenagers are always so helpful).  That is the second $35 pair of cross cut pliers I have melted.  Now the good news is I keep getting the ones with insulated handles so other than the shower of sparks there was no personal injury on my part.  I tried to install the light, but I need to go to the hardware store and buy some special bolts.  So tomorrow I will hang the light and install the last section of pegboard.  Then I can clean the whole room up and it will be all ready for company.  I will even move our slat bed into the room.  I am done much sooner than I expected.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why does it always take three times as long to prep for paint?

I did it.  The library is all primed and ready for paint.
library before priming

Library closet before priming

Annmarie helped me finish priming after dinner.  I am always amazed at how long the prep takes.  After cleaning out the room, scraping the excess mud off the floor and vacuuming the hole room I got to wash the walls with bleach water.  Then I taped down a plastic cover over the floor. The room is almost 10 x 20 feet in size.  Finally, I get to paint.  I used my favorite primer Kilz 2 (latex based).  I love this stuff it covers everything!!

You can see the roll of plastic on the floor before I spread it out and taped it down on the edges.  I will paint the room tomorrow and then wire the outlets and light on Monday.  It is going to be done by Thanksgiving!!  We are going to make Sarah help paint tomorrow.  She wants to repaint her room so she gets to help on the Library.   I told her if she does her room she is going to to it herself.  She can paint one room at a time.

Here it is after the primer.  Starting to look good.  The nice thing is the room is twice as bright now.  I didn't even get any paint in my hair.  That was a first.

I am really happy.  Unfortunately, I have to paint the upstairs hallway one more time.  So the next project after Thanksgiving is more painting. The utility deep sink is the project for Thanksgiving weekend.  Doug is going to help me.  I have a beginning picture that everyone can appreciate.

Add caption

Here it is, the new utility sink stand!!!  I finally found Lumber Liquidators.  They had some oak flooring that got returned so I got it for 58 cent square foot.  A great price.  So we have lots to work with over 60 square feet.  Annmarie wants a sink we can wash eggs in that is not the kitchen sink!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

library sheetrock done!

I should have worn a mask...
I did it, I finished the sheet rock today.  I just finished the texturing.  I made quite the mess while texturing the ceiling, the mud kept dropping on the floor and splattering all over.  I have the electric heater going to help the drying process.  I still have 9 feet of wallpaper left to remove.   I really don't want to get to that...  But on Friday I will have to take it off so I can prime the entire room.  I did have to give up on the space under the stairs.  I figure it will take me two to three days just to finish that little area.  I am running out of time, only 15 days until company arrives.  So I am going to concentrate all my energy on completing the library.  My goal is to wire the whole room on Monday.
I had to collect eggs today as the child was sick.  Those quail eggs are very very had to see!  They are on a sawdust floor and just blend right in.  I am looking forward to having some more wooden eggs for the chicken nests.  They keep laying outside the boxes.  I still want to get another 2 dozen pullets (female babies) in January.  But before I can do that I need to make my quail enclosure.  More projects.
I heard from my mother last week that there is a Lumber Liquidators in the Tricities.  So on Saturday morning I drug myself out of bed before work and went looking.  Now I didn't actually know where the store was located just a rough region of Kennewick.  I spent 90 minutes driving around looking for it.  Never did find it. I did buy a new Bonsai plant from some guys selling them out of a van on the street corner.  So I plan on going to work early tomorrow so I can stop at Lumber Liquidators!!  I want to price some flooring and lumber.  I will take more pictures of the library before I paint.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

progress, progress

Well, I spent six hours sanding and mudding in the library.  I remembered to wear a dust mask today.  I didn't want to blow my nose and get sheetrock mud out.  Totally nasty.  I have half the room done.  I patched in the missing ceiling in the closet and put the first coat of mud on it.  I will finish taking off the wallpaper on Monday and texture on Tuesday!!  I will be priming and painting in one week!!  I only have 19 days to go.  I need to go buy a prime rib and some rock salt for Thanksgiving dinner.  I even started working on the entrance to the library under the stairs.  I might be able to have that done also!!  I want to have it all done so Doom and I can concentrate on the laundry room.
I even found time to go out and add a chicken door to the outside chicken yard fence.  The sheep keep going in during the day and drinking all the water and knocking over the water containers.  They eat all the grass down also.  So I added a chicken sized door in the human door so we can just open the chicken door during the day.

Those chickens are living it up.  I have a little trash to pickup obviously.  You can see the blue heated dog waterer on the rock.  I am getting ready for Winter.  There is a plug in on the outside of the coop under the chicken ramp so I can plug in the waterer.  My new chicken door has a lock we can just turn when the door closes.   I added a picture of the new quail at the bottom of the page.  They are still getting used to their new surroundings and did not lay any eggs today.  I suspect it will take a few days for them to relax and settle in.
quail in their new temporary home, until the new pen is made. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quail anyone?

I would like to go on record blaming JOE for this new development.  I work with JOE, a nice guy who needed to get rid of two Courtnix Quail.  I took them off his hand last night.  They traveled in a box in the trunk of my car.  I talked to Annmarie this morning and told her about the quail and how I could build a small box 2 feet x 2 feet and 8 inches high to house 25 quail.  She told me that the quail cannot live in a box.  So after further study of the chicken coop I am going to build a 2 foot x 4 foot x10 inch cage.  I will cut a hole through the outside wall into a new 360 degree covered outside area just for the quail.  I can add a brooder space above that cage and some storage space above that.  The nice thing is all this is built on the walls on the inside of the coop.  I was not using that space at all so I get to use it for something now.  Pretty cool.
I am thinking about learning to pickle eggs and using the quail eggs for that.  So once I get it perfected then everyone will be getting pickled eggs as gifts!!
I will go cut my chicken sized door into the outside fence tomorrow.  This will keep the sheep out of the chicken yard.  The sheep keep knocking the waterers over.
I sanded and mudded the sheet rock in our library today.  I really think I will be done by Thanksgiving.  That is my story and I am sticking to it.  I will finish getting the wall paper off tomorrow and repair the closet ceiling.  I want to have the room painted and wired for our company.
I will post pictures of my new quail project as I start working on it!!!  I love new projects.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Monthly chicken financials

I made -$42.67 for the month on an average 27 hens laying (all my hens are now in except for the blue layers and they are now four months old, so in two more months they should start laying, beginning of new year). (for the year my net income is -$10.16/month (going negative again.). (For the year I am-$101.59 total).  I had $46.18 in expenses for feed (250#) this month (50# more feed than last month and about $10 more).  I had an extra $63.99 in expenses for a new chicken light and 440# of wood pellets to use as litter inside my coop, it should be enough for the next year.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $72.03. We collected a total of 358 usable eggs (3 less than last month) averaging 13.6 eggs/day collected (for the year the average is 12.1). The chickens ate 0.59#food/egg (for the year are averaging 0.64#/egg) In October it cost $0.11/egg or $1.32/doz for feed (my yearly average is $0.14/egg or $1.68/dozen. This is starting to creep up due to my feed costs increasing.  It will get pretty high when the snow hits.)  
You can see I was down over $42 this month due to purchasing the light and litter.  Those needed to happen.  I have been seriously considering the automatic chicken door again.  We found the motor only online for $75.  I can install it inside the chicken coop (they recommend you attach it to a timer, I may attach it to a light sensor, but I may need an electronic switch if I do that, will require more research.)  In May I had 33 chickens laying eggs, 6 months later and I only have 27.  The predators brutalized me this year.  I am going to pick up some more live traps.  I need to knock down the predator issue.  This will of course just put me farther in to the red.  But I expect this to be all needed hardware.  
I will get babies again in January.  That way they will be laying come Summer.  I may even wait till February, so that they will be able to use the yard when they get big enough.  I want to buy another 24 pullets.  That will put me over 50 hens.  That is the max I can have in my coop, plus I will be getting over 3 doz eggs/day with that many chickens.  
I will still need a chicken size door on the outside of the chicken run.  I will leave it open all the time except when we leave town.  The sheep keep going into the chicken yard and drinking all the water, knocking over the water dishes and eating all the grass.  Another chicken door will stop that.  
So know that I have my plan for the next year we will see how things go...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Took a break

I took a break on Saturday and went pheasant hunting.  There was two of us and the weather was cold, dreary, foggy and wet.  I was hoping it would keep the pheasants from jumping too early.  We took Bailey with us.  She loves to hunt, but doesn't understand the concept of staying close.  She gets locked on a bird and nothing else in the world matters.  After the first hour she started to tire and it was much better.  My hunting partner shot a young rooster and I missed a clean clear shot at an older one.  The pheasants wanted to jump early and were very spooky.  We saw over 30 roosters.  The only ones we almost stepped on were hens.  We spent four hours slogging all over the property.  I was very tired, a little cold and very wet from the knees down.  It did start to rain the last hour we were out.  I came home, warmed up in the shower and then laid down on the bed to just "stretch out".  I woke up 1.5 hours later after hearing this voice call out my name repeatedly.  I thought it was a dream.  Annmarie was going to town and could not find me.  She had hunted all over the house (except our bedroom) and was outside calling my name.  I gave up on being productive and went to town with her to run errands then we had dinner with her folks.  It was a very nice day.  Gotta get a lot of chores done today and some quality time with the wallpaper.  I only have 23 days before our company shows up for Turkey day.  The count down has begun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winter is here

Well that didn't take long.  As I was driving back from the post office yesterday morning I saw snow.  Winter is officially here.  At this rate we may have it on the farm in a week or two.
See the snow in the far saddle?  It has arrived.
The temperature has been in the mid 50s during the day.  The worst part is the wind has started back up and is howling nonstop.  I actually have to use two hands when driving the Prius.  The car is so light that it moves all over the place in the wind.  One of the trade offs for getting 48 mpg.  With a 90 mile commute one way I will take a few quirks for that kind of mileage.
I am still battling the wallpaper.  I had to go get some industrial wall paper remover chemical.  It works better than anything I have tried so far.  I am about 40% done now.  It still takes a lot of elbow grease and I am not used to working with my hands over my head for hours at a time.  So I will keep chipping away at it.  I would like to be done with it by Sunday so I can finish the sheetrock.
I am already thinking about the next project.  I love planning projects.  I have been working on the barn in my head nonstop.  I am always changing and revamping things in my mind.  Amazingly, the cost is free and it lets me visualize different approaches.  I need to install the utility room sink.  The very first thing I purchased for this house was a new utility sink.  I had to have it special ordered.  It is a huge deep cast iron/porcelain sink.  I paid way too much money for it.  The thing weighs about 150#.  It is incredibly heavy.  We have company coming on Thanksgiving for several days and Doug is going to help me make a custom stand for the sink.  He helped me with a closet in the upstairs bathroom and the door shelves in the kitchen last time they were up.
The sink has been on our old house porch for almost three years.  It needs a home.
Obviously, I need to clean out the sink.  The cats were hiding inside the box during the summer to stay cool.  I found some eggs in here also.  The chickens thought it was a grand place.  I ended up piling a bunch on top of the box so the animals could not get inside.  See the sink has a little ledge inside for a cutting board.

This is the future home of that wonderful sink.  We will have a nice deep utility sink.  Hopefully, it will be done before Christmas.  Two sinks will be very nice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

sheep in training

Here is the flock minus two.  The three dark brown ones in the middle are boys.  The farthest one is a wether (castrated male), the white faced middle boy is our up and coming ram (Lucky is his name because he is not getting eaten), he is in training and learning from our current male.  Lucky imitates our current ram.  It is pretty funny to watch.  Oreo is the large ram in the front of the trio of dark colored sheep.
On the far right and far left are our two new female lambs.  They should be ready in the Spring to start having babies.  We decided to not dock their tails.  Everything I have read about hair sheep says you do not have to do it, so we didn't.  I will know in a year if it was a mistake or not.  All the sheep we purchased already had their tails docked.
The larger central three sheep are our ewes.  They are all three pregnant at this moment.  We should be getting lambs from two of them in November and one in December.  Now, we are locking the sheep up in the barn every night so we can find the lambs.  Hopefully, this will also prevent the coyotes from killing the newborn lambs (lost two last year this way).

Here is the back side of the barn.  You can see all the critters running around together.  The dogs were in the yard just so the sheep didn't get spooked.  The dogs can run around with everyone also, but one of the pregnant ewes head butts our chocolate lab when she isn't looking.  It causes chaos.  I wanted some relaxed pictures.  The lab and rug rat dog do not attack the sheep, cats or chickens.

The cats don't do well with the chickens when the chickens are small.  They look like food (quail) and get eaten.  Once they are adults then the cats will leave them alone.  It is pretty funny when you are trying to feed the chickens bread.  The sheep come over to eat bread, the cats come over to eat bread, the dogs want bread and the chickens all scramble around trying to get whatever is left over.  I put in the bridge for the humans but one of the lambs taught all of the sheep to use it so now everyone uses it, even the chickens.  Go figure...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Library progress

Here is the closet before I got started.  You can see I have the power pulled and my sheetrock patches in place.  The wallpaper is killing me.  It is taking forever to get off.  Hence my desire to do something else (closet). 

Everyone was gone today (still are) so I made great strides on the library closet (pause while I remove bandaids from my finger tips, too hard to type).  I wanted to get the pegboard up in the closet, but I needed to close in the return duct going through the closet.  As no lumber is straight anymore and no wall inside any house is square or plumb it was quite the endeavor.  Yes, I did make a substantial blood sacrifice in the process.  Any carpenter will tell you that it is essential when working in tight spots when nothing is straight, level or plumb!.  I can finally feel my fingertips on my left hand now.  I smashed them good.  I was wondering if my primer's stainblock guarantee covers blood?  I tried to hide it all, but I think there is some showing.  On the bright side, I only had to go to the hardware store once.  I needed some longer screws.  I had too short and too long, not just right.  Besides, the hardware store guy, (name edited for privacy sake) buys eggs from me and I needed to deliver them.  I randomly drop in with eggs every once in a while.
Here is the duct before I got it covered.  This is a return duct to the central heating system.  It pulls from the living room goes under the house and comes back up here.  It goes into the library ceiling for about four feet.  So we won't be able to raise this ceiling unless we just want to box in the duct.  I don't really like that unless it is a basement so we will just live with the ceiling a foot lower in here than everywhere else.  It is hard to tell since you have to go under the stairs to get into this room.
The blue bag is powdered milk for the baby sheep.  Enough there for the next three years at the rate we use it.

Here is the finished enclosure.  Not too shabby.  I still need to throw some primer and paint on things, that will happen after I get the sheet rock up.  I want to prime and paint all in one step.  I hate having to keep washing the walls all the time.  It does get tiresome.  Annmarie is picking up some paint tomorrow.  Sherwin Williams sent us a coupon for 30% off and I had been thinking about getting some more paint, so that just cinched the deal.  I had them mix it up already.

 Here it is finished.  I even hung one basket to make sure I had the pegboard far enough away from the wall.  I have a few small pieces of trim to install.

No more excuses to not tackle that wall paper.  I tried scoring it and using Downy and water on it.  It helps, but it is still taking forever.  Someone suggested I use a heat gun.  I can borrow my father's and give it a try.  We have company coming the week of Thanksgiving and they will be sleeping in this room so I am sure they would like some light.  So I need to get all the wall paper down, all the mud applied to the walls, texture applied, primed and painted then wire in all the outlets and the light.  As an added bonus, I am doing the small area under the stairs at the same time.  It just needs some new tongue and groove wood and lots of mud.  I will take a picture of it soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Treasure

Steve unearthed a previously overlook treasure this weekend during his cleaning and winterizing. Can you spot it in this photo? It's right there tucked into the stump.No, it's not the pump, although that is neat too. It's smaller than that. Look closely. Yes, that is a fruit press tucked up into that corner. I have no idea how old it is, but I don't ever recall it being put to use, so it's probably older than I am. Steve tested to see if it still turned, and it did, so he set it aside. After he was done with everything else, he sat down and worked it over with a steel brush to get some of the rust off.

Here he is, doing his best Wilson impersonation. Everyone does remember Wilson, from Tim Taylor's sitcom of years ago, right? He scrubbed it up with that steel brush, and then hit it with SOS pads, and then we went down to Mom's and got two medium-sized moving boxes of apples from her

tree. She doesn't spray, so they were wormy, but we're juicing them, so it shouldn't matter. Just cut out any bad spots and squeeze the rest to mush.

We go run some errands, and then I settle down to finish some prep work for this week's classes. I had two tests to write, and a pile of homework to grade, so I wasn't paying much attention to what Steve was doing. He was in the kitchen, so I figured he was doing the dishes. It eventually dawned on me that it doesn't take that long to do the dishes, and I'd heard the tea kettle whistle, so I figured coffee was nearly done, and surface to get myself a cup.

Upon entering the kitchen, I find Steve trying to hold the press still (it's intended to be bolted down) while turning the handle. He's got a gallon of apples about squeezed down to about half their original volume. It's not an easy thing to do, and it's even harder when the thing won't hold still. So, I help by holding the handles for a little bit. Steve's working awfully hard at turning that press, and he gets the apples down to about one-third their original volume, and he's got about 2/3 of a cup of cider. Yes, that's an awful lot of work for a tiny amount of cider. We develop a plan bolting the press onto a board and clamping that to the kitchen counter for actual cider production, and head off to the living room so Steve can make his post of last night, and

I can finish my work.

This afternoon, when I come home from classes, Steve says to me, "The more I think about it, the more I think that press is a great decoration, just like it is." Now, I was pretty sure we'd end up there eventually, so I'm actually pretty impressed that he came to that conclusion before we mounted the thing on a board. We may still mount it, but now it'll be for decoration, rather than any attempt to make cider. He still wants to make cider, but I think we'll eventually purchase a press that's slightly larger and has much longer handles so we can get better leverage. So, this lovely piece of history will eventually stand on a nice wrought-iron stand and grace a corner of our kitchen.


Chickens wandering the property, I ended up making a burn pile of all the different broken tree limbs and discards.
I spent all day Saturday shopping and getting ready for the big remodel in the Library.  I have all the pegboard, plywood, 2x2, 2x4, and sheet rock needed to fix everything up.  I also bought 500# of wood pellets for the chicken coop litter.  I use the deep litter method in the coop so I (and Sarah) only have to clean it out once a year.  By the time I ran my errands and unloaded everything I didn't get a lot more accomplished.
 So on Sunday we made great strides to get the farm ready for Winter.  I followed Annmarie's advice this year and shut down the outside water!  I don't want to have to replace those risers again next year.

new bedding and the nipple waterer in the chicken coop. 
 Sarah finished digging out the coop and put in new bedding for the chickens.
  I added a nipple waterer inside the coop.  It is just a five gallon bucket with three little mechanical nipples inserted in the bottom.  The nipples don't let the water drip out of the bucket, but do form a small drop of water on the end of them.  The chickens peck at the water causing more to come out and they learn how to get water in no time.  Our babies only took a single day to get the hang of it.  I love the no mess angle.  The other waterers cause quite a mess inside the coop.  The other nice thing was this was very cheap.  Annmarie got me a couple of aquarium heaters to use inside the bucket this winter.  We are hoping it is enough to keep the water thawed.  I might take some insulation and tape it to the lid and sides using a feed bag and some duct tape on the outside of the insulation.  Still thinking about that.  It is probably necessary.

 We cleaned up the steps and windows.  I added stepping stones to the yard so you can cross it in the Winter without getting all muddy.   The baby chickens are not  very good looking chickens.  I keep reminding myself that they are not for their looks, they are for the eggs.  They are supposed to lay true blue eggs.  We will see.  I should start getting eggs from them in the next 2-3 months.  That will be the true test of whether the seller was truthful.

 We decided that it was time to let the babies out with the adult chickens.  They are not really babies any more, but the roosters are not crowing yet.  I have a banty hen that is tiny, she might get eaten. She is a little Showgirl that was free.

I went out to lock the chickens up last night (have not forgotten since our favorite chicken got killed) and one of the babies was outside the coop in his enclosure on a perch outside alone.  I had to grab him and take him inside the coop.  All the babies were in their pen (door wide open) crouched down on the floor together.  It will take about a week for them to integrate with the other chickens.

  I also crawled up on a ladder and attached a chicken weather vane we found somewhere on the property.  I cannot remember where now.  I fixed the wood shed's loose tin roof.  It had a piece on the end that would flap and bang around during a wind storm.  Sarah cleaned up all the buckets we had laying around outside and all the Summer chicken supplies that need to be put away for Winter.  We are pretty much set!!  I am sure something else will come up, but for the most part we are ready.  I also attached a cow bell to the sheep barn entrance.  We are going to start teaching the sheep to come in at night with food and a tolling of the cow bell.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to teach them that the cow bell means night time lockup.  We should have a couple more lambs late next month or early December.  I think next month, but I forgot to write it down and cannot remember now!!  Go figure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

unexpected critter

Well, I haven't lost any more chickens.  Of course, that could be because we have not forgotten to lock them up!  We have been leaving the trap baited during the day in a hope that I may catch something.  Well, I did catch something just not what I wanted.
Three days running this bird kept coming down and eating all the leftover dog food.  The last time it was in the trap long enough to get tired.  Annmarie said the bird let her pet it and bring it out of the cage.  It has not been back since.
I did catch a kitten tonight.  I did the shake and release treatment.  Maybe that will freak it out enough it stays away.  I plan on getting some chicken coop time this weekend to get ready for winter.  I need to finish digging out the deep litter and hanging the other waterers.  Luckily, I found the cause of my short in the coop.  I changed the breaker today and went outside to attach a waterproof cover on the back of the old house.  One of the screws I put in to hold the outlet in place rubbed through a hot wire and was shorting out the power feed.  So it is fixed!!!  Woo, hoo!!  It was fairly easy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Predators 15, Steve 10

I am gaining but so are the predators.  Caught another raccoon last night  (so far 8 raccoons and 2 skunks down).  This one was very large probably around 25#.  I am betting this is the one that ate my favorite chicken.  It will be eating my chickens no more.  I really feel that the predators can quit coming for a free lunch at any time.  I cannot keep feeding them.  I now have 26 laying hens and I think only 7 of the babies are hens( they have another 3-4 months before they start laying).  If I lose another 15 hens in the Spring I will be down to 19 laying hens!!  I really need another 2 dozen babies in December.  But without a guaranteed heat source the babies will die.  I would have to mail order the chicks and shipping for them is around $40.  So those 24 chicks would cost around $120.  Those same chicks in the Spring at the feed store would cost $72.

The problem with that is I am having power issues (I hated to admit this).  I wired the chicken coop and have had the breaker trip three times in the last week.  I am not sure why it is tripping.  I only have the chicken light plugged in to that circuit.  It has four outlets wired with only the one inside the chicken coop in use, two of the others are on the outside of buildings but they have waterproof covers over them with the flip open doors for access.  So I am truly not sure why it is tripping.  I may have to just change the circuit breaker out and hope that is the problem (since it is the easiest fix, what do you think the odds of that are?).  If not, I am going to have to tear into each outlet and see if I have some wires touching.  After that it gets complicated.  So we are going to hope that one of the first two fixes works.  I may also put a waterproof cover inside the chicken coop.  Not for any water, but to keep the dust out of the outlet that is not in use.  Chickens are very dusty.  The last thing I need is a fire in my chicken coop.
So I am not sure what to do.  First thing is to fix the power supply.  Once that is corrected I will have to decide on purchasing new chicks this Winter.
I did find out today that around 1 ton of grapes is around a normal/acre yield.  (I read any where from 2-6 tons/acre depending on soil condition)  So ideally you should make around $3K/acre/year, but I was told that doesn't always happen.  Truly, we would like to make around $20-40k/year net.  I expect it would take 20 acres for that to happen.  So I will keep up the research and question asking.  A friend offered to hook me up with a honest irrigation supplier and post supplier.  He just said to let him know.  I have a coworker whose husband is a vineyard manager.  So I plan on using that angle but it is harvest time now so I am leaving him alone.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Predator battle back on

Well, I went out tonight to check on my trap.  Sarah had already told me that I didn't catch anything.  The trap door was sprung shut, but no critter.  The dog food was still inside the cage.  So it looks like something fairly large was trying to get the food.  I re-baited and set the trap again.  I only put one side up tonight also.
I must confess that the reason we lost another chicken is I forgot to lock the chickens up one night last week.  I just spaced it.  They were just waiting for me to let my guard down!!!  So now I am being hyper-vigilant about locking the chickens up.  If I could just eliminate the problem my life would be easier.  This is definitely the worst predator year I have had.

I am thinking that I am going to have to build a multitude of traps if I put in grapes.  I may just build a second trap next year so I can run two traps.   I would like to stick one on the far end of the Ram pasture.  I suspect the predators are coming from that direction since there are no houses or disturbances.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Predators 15, Steve 9

Well it appears the battle is back on.  I made it a point to check for our banty Brahma tonight when I locked up the chickens.  No Brahma.  So check one more chicken gone to predators.  The worst part is it was our favorite chicken.  She was incredibly mellow with lots of personality.  So I lifted one side of the trap only this time and baited it with dog food.  Hopefully, I won't catch a bunch of kittens.  I fed the baby chickens some zucchini that was going bad (they had some salami too, any one care to guess which one got ate first and they kept stealing from each other?)  (yep, they like protein over veggies!!)  The chickies have killed all the grass in their enclosure so I have been making it a point to give them veggie treats from the garden.  I never have any compost cause the chickens eat it all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

September monthly chicken financials

I made $8.64 for the month on an average 27 hens laying (all my hens are now in except for the blue layers and they are still babies). (for the year my net income is -$6.55/month (I gained a whopping $2/month). (For the year I am -$58.92 total).  I had $36.88 in expenses for feed (200#) this month.  I had an extra $31.98 in expenses for heaters for my new chicken waterers.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $54.80. We collected a total of 361 usable eggs (44 more than last month) averaging 13.6 eggs/day collected (for the year the average is 11.9). The chickens ate 0.47#food/egg (for the year are averaging 0.67#/egg) In September it cost $0.09/egg or $1.08/doz for feed (my yearly average is $0.14/egg or $1.68/dozen. This is a penny an egg better this month.)  I thought I would start tracking how many total pounds of food are consumed each month so everyone can see what happens as Winter comes and the chickens have no outside food to supplement. 
I went out with Sarah tonight to lock the chickens up.  She had to collect eggs and I watered the babies.  They caught on in one day using the new drippers.  Those 12 chickens drank 5 gallons of water in just a few days.  She noticed that the Brahma hen was missing from inside the coop.  We looked all around and could not find her.  She has gone broody so we are hoping she is outside hiding somewhere.  Other wise  I will have lost another hen.  I will set up the trap again tomorrow night.  The coyotes are howling every night and seem to get closer every day.  I may have to go out and call some coyotes in next month.  By mid November we will have to start locking the sheep up every night.  We think the next batch of lambs is due around December. 
I worked on the wiring inside the Library today.  I thought it would be simple.  Not so...  I crawled under the house, I could make a small fortune using it as a haunted house.  Spider webs were thick.  I had to use a rake to sweep them out of the way.  The heating guys ran a large 16 inch duct under the house, it is insulated and was supposed to have two inches of space between it and the ground.  I made them go back under the house and dig it out, but did not reinspect it.  So now, I get to crawl back under there in the Spring so there is air all around the duct and the insulation won't get damp.  I ended up drilling a few more holes to run wire.  Sarah was sick so I went to town and detailed Annmarie's car.  It was pretty dirty after using it as a pickup during Round-Up. 
So far the sheep have not gotten out of the pasture.  I am crossing my fingers on this one.