Tuesday, April 27, 2010
We are hoping that the sheep will keep things under control once I get the weeds knocked out. This year, I started spraying in and around our house first and then moved out to the surrounding property(was going to finish spraying today, but it rained. So good thing I sprayed around the house first) Of course, I needed to get the Mule behind the house and it won't fit through a couple of the gates or go there due to the new fences I installed. I had to drive it sideways through the creek and got stuck a couple of times before I could get through. Gonna have to think about a couple of planks to get across the dry creek bed. The banks are pretty steep.
I haven't heard back from the insurance gal or the custom wood cutter. I keep looking at the bridge thinking that is definitely the next project. I am even going to wire in two outlets, one at each end of the bridge, for Christmas lights.
I also had the pleasure of trying to mow the lawn. Sarah is responsible for mowing the lawn. Last year she talked me into getting one of those old rotary manual push mowers. Cool in theory, no noise, no gas, mulch the cut grass right back into the lawn, the perfect mower. Not so much. They are much lighter now than they used to be, so they jump around more. Your lawn needs to be perfectly flat, ours has bumps and divots and holes all over the place. The lawn needs to be bone dry, it is Spring, whose lawn is dry now? You need fine bluegrass, not course bunch grass. There was a 15x20 foot section that Sarah couldn't get through. I got half of that mowed down and was going to finish it off today. It rained. So no, lawn care today. Off to work on the stairs and a little kitchen floor work so we can get our sideboard back into the kitchen. It is stashed in a room collecting dust. I need to cut some shims so it go back against our new wall in the kitchen. The kitchen floor is a long ways off at this point.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
A while back I posted that Steve wanted to register a brand. What he really wanted was something cool to put on stationery and return address stamps, and labels if we ever decide to use our own egg cartons. The design restrictions on brands did not suit his taste, and enough people finally looked at him oddly when he said, "But we're not going to brand anything," that he decided maybe we could just come up with something we liked. So, here is the first draft. The colors are not set, and I'm not particularly happy with that aspect yet, but I kind of like the interlocking nature of the letters. As always, though, I'd love to have comments and suggestions.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The chickens follow me around whenever I am outside. They think I am going to give them a treat. It is kinda weird to be followed around by 20-30 chickens. Sarah collected eggs today and four of them had cracks in the shell. Too much free ranging by the chickens and not enough calcium. So I had her put out a bunch of oyster shell. We will have to keep it out for a month or so and get it built back up in their system. I hate having to throw the eggs back to the chickens. They love them. I need one more egg to make an even 7 dozen to take to work tomorrow.
I did get the final sanding on the upstairs hallway done today. Covered the whole floor with plastic and now just need to do the final sanding on the stairs and then I can spend a couple of days cleaning sawdust off the walls and ceiling before I stain and seal the floor and stairs. Of course sleeping downstairs on the futon for a few days while the stain and sealer dry is just an added bonus.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It rained while I was working yesterday. I had plans to mow the lawn, but the grass was too wet, of course the grass is ankle high now and getting longer every day. I tried mowing the lawn with the sheep last year and it didn't work out so well. The sheep liked my decorative bushes and plants, especially the roses. The grass just kept growing and 6 sheep in a yard can drop a lot of poop in a few days. This was a sad fact to learn, I had high aspirations of never having to mow a lawn again. So today, I was headed to the barn to do more digging (my personal workout program) which means I had to cross our front bridge. I have become fixated on the bridge. If I can get those beams for cheap (relative term) then I can redo the front bridge for around $1200. A fabulous price (free labor of course) but one for which I was going to hold off on doing until next year. I mean, come on the barn is just screaming my name!!!! I priced some 16 foot boards, 12 inches wide and 1 inch thick at the custom cutter's for $0.70/ft ($11.20 a board). I would need two of them, as they are overlapped on the barn. I would need to side about 60 feet, for a total cost of $1344 (crap, way too much money). So it looks like I will be using the back wall of the current grain silo as the new outside wall. Will still need some lumber. Here is my distraction, the front bridge...
So I did make it out to the barn again. It is very painful. I am sure that I am going to have to drag a hose and sprinkler up into the barn and put a few thousand gallons of water onto the sheep shit so it can be removed. I am hoping to triple or quadruple the weight of the sheep shit with water. That way I can really get a workout!! The trouble is the dried sheep shit is hard as a rock, I am only getting a few inches with each swing of the pick ax. Not good progress at all. I need at least 8-10 inches with each pick ax swing. I started using a wide grain shovel today. It worked great. I broke the shit loose with the pick ax and regular shovel and used the grain shovel to get a big pile. Probably, 4-5 times what I could do with the regular shovel. I did finally get an entire barn width cleaned out about 8 feet deep into the barn now.
You can see the three different floor heights in the picture and dead center there is a small thing sticking out of the floor, that is a rusted off metal fence post in the wooden barn floor. I will keep plugging away at it. When it dries out I will crawl under the barn and take some pictures. Before I get to do anything on the barn I am going to shore up the beams and make sure things are stable underneath.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Here is a picture of the barn floor. I have made a little more progress since this was taken, but not much. I keep getting distracted. I really need to get the upstairs floor completed so I can get outside and get some outside work done!!! Outside work beckons, weeds are growing, birds are singing and frogs are croaking, this is not the time to be trapped inside the house working.
My parents had another maple tree cut down at one of their rentals. So Sarah and I went over last night and pulled the trunk out to the front driveway using the smaller branches as rollers. It took us over two hours and it was painful. I told Sarah at least she was learning a practical application of rollers, chains, levers, fulcrums and practical pulling with a motorized vehicle. She told me that the she understood the theory and didn't really need any practical application. First 15 minutes she voiced that concern and tried to get out of helping. It didn't work. So today I went over and winched the trunk into the trailer with a come along. It was not easy and it was the hottest day of the year to boot. As I was pulling into the custom cutter (they convert the logs into rough cut lumber at $65/hr for labor, great way to get primo wood) I saw some very large pressure treated beams perfect for building a new front bridge. So I expressed interest in purchasing said beams, this is going to push the barn back even further, which sucks. I might end up redoing the bridge instead.
Also, I had to dig the chain saw out of the wood shed this morning. I noticed an egg, then I found two more then a hole pile of them! Of course we had no idea someone was laying over there. It was behind a door that was leaning against a wall. This evening I went out and collected 22 eggs, I tossed them all against a tree stump and the cats and chickens had a feast. I had to wrap a tarp around the hog wire panel I was using as a gate so hopefully the hens cannot get over there and lay any more eggs. At this rate, I may need to add a couple more nest boxes to the chicken coop.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Chickens can be very contrary creatures. A while back, Steve realized that he had reached the point where he needed more nesting boxes in the coop. The idea here is that the chickens will lay the eggs in the nesting boxes and not all over the coop (and farm if we're unlucky). So, we're discussing ideas, and I happen to see a blue bin that we've not used in a while. You know the ones. You likely have at least one of them storing your Christmas decorations in the off season. The big inexpensive ones you can purchase at most department stores, and I suggest that he use that. You have to understand that we are building up at this point. The nesting boxes are actually in the back room of the coop, and the chickens have access through the interior wall. Steve built the first set from scrap lumber, but we are fresh out of scrap lumber. So, we used other scrap material for this set. The dog-food container that started life in the woodshed across the creek and tempted the racoons (details can be found here - scroll down to about the 6th photo on the right) is one. An old cooler that is really not fit to be called a cooler any longer is another, and that blue bin makes 2 more. So we now have a total of 7 nest boxes in the coop. You'd think the chickens would want to check out their new digs, but, chickens are rather contrary creatures that really do not like change. They first ignored the new boxes, and layed their eggs on the floor of the coop when they couldn't get into a box. Then, they apparently decided to check them out, but they were unhappy with the fact that they were intended to house eggs and tossed out the plastic egg that is supposed to show them what to do there. For a while, they were making nests and teasing us, but not laying. Apparently the "new" boxes have now been in place long enough to be accepted. Sarah found eggs in all of them last week. It only took about two months. Chickens really really hate change. We do, however, still have one holdout. I found 4 eggs in the woodshed this morning. I guess she is not a fan of recycling. The cure for this is to lock the chickens in the coop for a few days so they get used to laying where they should, but I really don't like to do that. I miss my bug control. Maybe it's just as easy to go check the woodshed every day....
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
A few years ago, many of the wheat fields in this area were planted in native grasses through a government program designed to reduce soil erosion and try to eliminate some of the grain surplus in this country. There were a lot of requirements to qualify, but the land around here is all marginal enough to have been eligible. The result is that instead of being surrounded by wheat fields that alternate between plowed ground and "amber waves of grain," we are now surrounded by fields of native plants. The change has had some unanticipated effects. We see a lot more wildlife, including these turkeys. There is a newly arrived flow of about 30 that is frequenting the area. I've only seen three that seem to be roosting in the trees along the creek-bank just down the road from us. Steve noticed them near the end of the day when he was taking Sarah to swim one day last week. He called me, and I took the camera down for some snap-shots.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Lone Ranger Chicken
I hear a rustling in the morning,
And look out to see what it was.
I see my lone ranger chicken,
Pecking at the ground for food.
Every morning there she is
Flying from her captivity,
To find the choicest meal,
A squishy bug or a lovely weed.
She alone of all the hens
Ventures over the wall
The rest wait through the day
Until I open the gate.
As the sun sets,
And the sky turns colors
She flies back over the wall
For a nights rest, to get up and do it again.
a poem by Sarah Hardin, age 13