Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Experiment gone wrong

As in all things in life most of us don't account for ALL the details.  We make plans and adjust accordingly as they go awry.  No big surprise then that my chicken experiment failed.  We kept the chickens locked up for two days and only collected nine eggs total.  My premise was that I would get an accurate count of all eggs produced.  I was assuming that some hens were sneaking off and not laying in the coop (hence, the reason I am not getting any green eggs).  I would also be able to keep the egg suckers (cats) out of the coop.  I wanted to be able to make some informed thinning decisions.  All this depended on some cooperation on the chickens part (willing participants) and I forgot to account for a chicken's pathological fear of all change.  A happy chicken lays eggs, an unhappy one doesn't.  An expected side benefit to this experiment was to keep the chickens safe (they were locked up) but even that didn't happen.  Three of them decided to not go into the coop at night and one of them got eaten over the weekend!

Annmarie said that out two dogs were too scared to leave out front porch first thing in the morning after being let out of their kennels.  She had to go out and stand on the porch and coax the dogs off the porch.  She said she had heard wolves again howling that night.  We aren't sure if it is the wolves or a cougar scaring the dogs.  This just means we are going to have to go out armed first thing in the morning.  It is amazing to me that we live in a modern society and at our house we go out armed first thing in the morning ready to battle mother nature.  I would expect this if we were living in Alaska not Eastern Oregon.  After the whole raccoon incident, Annmarie isn't taking any chances (or prisoners!).  So far this year we have not lost a single sheep to predators.  The local paper had an article recently that Oregon fish and wildlife was going to kill another two wolves from a known pack after confirming over nine separate livestock wolf kills.  The wolves don't seem to be a personal danger.  Everyone I know that has encountered them personally has fared well, except for their dogs.  They are incredibly territorial and will kill all canines.  I am far more concerned a young cougar may come down to the house.  The joys and tribulations of living out in the country. 

The wheat truck is unloaded and ready for hay.  Sarah and I put away the left over cedar from the bridge project (yes, I know it was finished quite a while ago) over the weekend.  We have enough cedar to do another 32 feet of fence.  Annmarie and I are still trying to determine where the fence is going to run.  This will most likely entail putting out stakes and some marking tape so we have some visual references to help with the decision.  This is a next year or year after project.

I have managed to fill the entire floor of the clean and organized (was) tool shed.  It will most likely take me a good four hours to get it all straightened out.  It is mostly tools and yard sale finds in boxes and buckets.  My newest favorite container is a five gallon bucket.  You can just throw the tools needed for a specific job in the bucket and go.  It works great until you do this four or five times and then all the tools you need are spread out in various buckets.  I guess the moral of the story is put away tools every time... this may take a lifetime to learn.

We got a quote to fix our heating system.  Currently, we spend about $2400/year in propane for heat, hot water and cooking.  In the winter it is not uncommon to burn 400 gallons of propane in a bitter month.  This makes for a crazy bill.  We found out that our original heating company (forever nameless) had undersized our feeder duct to the downstairs by over 50%.  Replacing 20 feet of supply duct work in our upstairs bathroom will gain us another 1300cf of hot air downstairs.  Our hope is it will cut our propane consumption.  My theoretical goal (insert arbitrary number) is a 25% decrease in propane used.  It might be wishful thinking but you have to have goals.  The new contractor (whom we like and is very conscionable) is going to make the supply duct larger and wire in a third control zone.  A zone is an area of the house with its own thermostat that opens and closes a duct damper (valve) to regulate the temperature independent of the rest of the house.  Our third zone is going to be the breeze porch.  We had considered putting it off (Annmarie) until later, but if I install more flooring in the attic I will cover up the duct dampers making it that much harder to go back in and install.  We are going to get this corrected (repaired/fixed/put right) for the low low price of about $2000.  This is supposed to occur near the end of this month.  If our luck holds true it will be on the coldest day possible. 

Annmarie and I have started to negotiate the winter projects (I whine, she lists them off, I re-prioritize, she list them off again, I whine) for this year.  It seems having the beautiful stained glass lights in the stairwell covered with plastic and unusable for the last four years is long enough.  I need to put a second coat of paint on the stairwell walls (20 feet tall).  The large light is a three foot diameter upside dome that hangs four feet from the ceiling.  There is only six inches of clearance on either side of the light from the wall.  I love the light but it is going to become a huge dust/bug collector.  With it located over the stairs there is not good way to reach it to clean it our or even change a light bulb.  How on earth would I do it when I am seventy years old?  Two years later I finally came up with an idea.  I can go up into the upstairs bathroom and cut a 2x2 foot access into the wall.  You will be able to pull the door out and just reach through the wall.  The light is only six inches away from the light.  Simple and elegant, plus the wall that will contain the access door is only visible from the top of the stairs. 

Here is the project list as prioritized by the wife:
1.  Paint stairwell and make stair lights functional.
2.  Redo spare bedroom walls and floor (fix sheetrock, paint room, sand and stain floor).
3.  Thanksgiving project is to build a cookie sheet cupboard to go between the stove and counter (about 12 inch space 38 inches high with a couple of dividers and open front).
4.  At this point if I have finished the above I can kinda pick and choose from the other projects.
a.  Make the laundry room door close (I shot expanding foam around the door and it expanded too much so the door won't shut).
b.  Make spare room closet door shut (it sticks on top).
c.  Strip and stain breeze porch door.
d.  Finish wiring in attic light and power so I can work in the attic after dark.
e.  Finish floor in attic
f.  Empty old house so it will be ready for conversion to a wood shop.
g.  Tear out divider wall in old house.
h.  Level old house so windows and doors close.
i.  Any kind of barn work.
j.  Repair old fence.
k.  Move sheep crap piles away from barn (need room to work on outside walls).
l.  Clean up around farm so I can mow with the tractor without running over every thing.
m. Organize all the farm equipment into one area.
n. Tear down old grainary (before it falls down).
o.  Repair and tear up part of the sheep shed.
p.  Fix irrigation pump.
q.  Find and setup irrigation line
r.  You get the picture...