October 12, 2010
Last year we put our bird feeders on a standard Shepherds Hook type of thing. It worked fine until something pretty heavy decided to bend the 5 foot hook to the ground. It looked like a big “U” when we found it. The plastic feeder was destroyed and the biggest piece remaining was about 2 inches. We were not sure if it was a bear or a raccoon that decided it was hungry enough to due it in.
Last weekend we decided to get the birds ready for this winter and wanted to try to do a better job and install a stronger system. We picked up a 6 foot piece of Chain-Link fence post from Lowe’s and used the fence post hand pounder to get it into the ground. We put a cap on it, a hook and hung the feeder. We will see how it holds up this winter.
New Feeder and Post
October 11, 2010
Yesterday was another warm and mild day but the nights are becoming quite cool. It won’t be long before we wake up to see a crisp and sparkling frost covering the grass and brush. Sonny and I decided it was time to dig up the sweet potatoes. I have to say that they were pretty disappointing. They grow well in the southern states, but I’m wondering if we actually have the proper climate for them. Either that or we had poor soil and some kind of bug.
We will be lucky if we get six or seven edible potatoes out of the bunch. They have little tiny holes in some of them and they didn’t seem to form well. They looked a lot like our red potatoes. I will have to do some research on them. If nothing else we may just chalk it up to experience and forego growing them again next year. While we were digging the sweet potatoes we uncovered a few more pumpkins hiding in the overgrowth. They are kind of puny but I’m sure we can get a couple of pies out of them.
The garden is officially finished. Now we need to burn off the debris and throw a layer of nutritious manure on the surface, curtesy of John and Carols donkeys. We also have some compost curing that will be ready for Spring. We’ll get this soil in shape yet. All in all we can’t complain about this years garden. Although not a prize winning one, it provided a learning experience and some produce too.
October 9, 2010
The weather today was beautiful. Blue clear skies and warm temperatures made it the perfect day to be outside. John came over bright and early this morning to help Sonny install the new bank of batteries that arrived yesterday.
All he asked in payment was a cup of coffee to get him started. You would not believe how heavy each one of those batteries are. I definitely would not have the strength to lift and carry them to the battery box where Sonny would install them.
Getting them in place
We are hoping to get a little more juice for those extended cloudy and rainy days that come along. Winter will be a another good test for our system with its months of grey and overcast days.
We still need to finish that project we started a few weeks ago of putting the R-19 insulation under the house. That will be a big improvement. We don’t want a repeat of last years wool socks and L.L. Bean slipper requirement. Back then you could get frost bite by just touching the floor with your bare foot. Brrrrrr. Cold feet don’t set well with me. Cold weather is ok, but I am too old to be like Ebenezer Scrooge eating gruel in a fireless room.
October 8, 2010
Since Sonny works four tens he has Fridays off and it has become our day to go to Clarksburg to get needed supplies and a lunch out. Today our main objective was to hit TSC ( Tractor Supply ) for a forty pound propane tank exchange. We use them to fuel the generator and with the prior rainy week, the generator was used every morning and evening to charge the batteries. We also picked up two twenty pound bags of chicken feed and twenty pound bag of dog food. Of course as you walk around you find more items that weren’t on the list but you can’t live without. We picked up another chicken waterer. Once the weather gets cold we wont be able to use the rain water catch barrels because they will freeze. We will have to drain and store them until Spring. So we will need to fill the chicken water buckets from the house. It will be easier to swap out the frozen waterers with a fresh one from the house instead of making two trips back and forth every morning.
The onset of winter weather is weighing heavily on our minds and we are trying to prepare early. Out here cold weather gear is a must when the temperatures drop into the single digits and you have to go out in it whether you want to or not to take care of your animals. The Tractor Supply already has a stock of Carhart overalls and coats along with gloves and hats. Sonny bought me a nice pair of Carhart coveralls and we already have a plethora of hats, scarves and insulated boots here at the house. Next payday there is a coat on the horizon to match the coveralls. I will be pretty set then.
NEWSFLASH! Frontier finally made it out here to connect our phone. We are now able to talk to the outside world. Sonny has been fighting with them since about last January. Now maybe his blood pressure will go back down to normal. Oh wait minute….there is still the County Road Department to do battle with. I’m sure we will have to call them every time it snows because they are not used to people living down this far.
Ohio-Pitt delivered the additional battery bank today that Sonny had ordered two weeks ago. It was easier to meet them at the Country Store six miles from our house rather than risk a non delivery because they could not follow the detailed directions to our house. As you already know prior companies have had problems finding us because they see our mailbox, but neglect to follow the instruction “go past the mailbox another mile.”
After such a busy day its nice to slow down, listen to some relaxing music by the fire and enjoy a cup of coffee with my loved one. Life is good.
October 6, 2010
For the past few days Pot Hole Farm has experienced on and off rain showers. The grey clouds have been heavy and a cold mist has settled over the peaks of the hills. In evening the gauzy white mist will swirl down into the meadows like the haunting specters of ancient ancestors who come to walk the night. As day breaks the smokey wisps will slowly meander across the fields and up the hillsides until they disappear once more into the heavens.
Its the ideal setting for October’s ghastly promenade of ghosts and goblins. October may have come in with the chilling dampness of a mausoleum, but the wood stove keeps everything warm and cozy inside our home.
Perfect for canning up the pumpkin harvest. Yesterday, Carol came over to show me how to can the pumpkin. It’s much easier than I thought it would be. The Cushaw pumpkin is more like a squash than your ordinary pumpkin, although I think they are both in the squash family. The skin of the Cushaw is more tender and not as thick. The meat is yellowish white instead of orange. We cut the pumpkin in half and scraped out the seeds and fibers. Then we cut them into strips and peeled the skin. We cut the meat in one inch chunks or there a bouts and boiled them in water for two minutes. Place the chunks into your prepared jars, cover with the liquid, seal and process in a pressure canner. Now you have pumpkin all ready to be made into pies or pumpkin bread, or whatever recipe you chose to make.
Bring on the Pie
The Cushaw pumpkin will make a more creamy pie than regular pumpkin and I can attest to the tastiness of it. Carol and I did up four quarts yesterday. Each quart should make two pies. Today I canned nine pints. One pie at a time will be enough for us unless we have a crowd over for dessert. I also spread out some of the seeds on a screen to dry out. Once dry they can be put into jars or zip lock bags and stored in the freezer for next years crop. The chickens went wild over the left over seeds and scraps. So when the ghosties are roaming about on these chilly October evenings, we’ll be snuggled up by the fire with a heavenly cup of coffee and a slice of divine pumpkin pie.
October 4, 2010
I have spent an enjoyable week with my parents and sister. It’s always nice to have family come and visit us at PHF. It’s also nice to have the extra helping hands of my sister and she is always ready to delve into new projects and daily chores. You see she’s a farm girl at heart too. So it was easy to get her to help me clean out the chicken coop. It was quite a mess and I usually don’t allow it to get this bad. With the two of us shoveling, scraping and removing debris the job was done in record time.
This place needs cleaned up
The worst mess was under the roosts so after we got it cleaned I decided to spread some straw over the shavings in that area. I think it will be easier to remove sections of soiled straw and replace it every few days rather than just the wood shavings that get soggy. The alfa hen watched our every move as we cleaned even though we had thrown treats out in the yard to keep the flock busy while we worked. Unfortunately they have to stay in a pen for now, because we can’t let them free range until the pullets start to lay and know to use the nesting boxes. The alfa hen or queen bee as we call her, scratched up the debris as we shoveled.
I guess she didn’t want us miss any poopy mess. Yuk. I can definitely say that scooping out a chicken coop is way at the bottom of the glamourous job scale. We did brighten up the coop with a bit of art. My sister brought a stitched picture that she has had since the seventies that says “The rooster may crow, but the hen delivers the goods.” We hung it over the nesting boxes. Kinda gives the coop some class. I’m sure the chickens don’t really care, but it gives me a chuckle when I see it hanging there.
Home Sweet Home
My two roosters are maturing and are trying to tune up their vocal chords for crowing. Right now they sound like they swallowed a kazoo or young boys whose voices are changing, but I’m sure that within a week they will sing a perfectly pitched cock-a-doodle-doo. I really need to do something with them because they are starting to harass my hens. I noticed that one of my hens had a bloody scratch on her back today. Sonny may have to become the executioner, but I don’t know if I could do that.
October 3, 2010
Seems that our projects for this year are nearing an end. Last year we heated with propane and it worked well except for the cost. It only took a month or so to realize that we would have to have a wood stove up and running for the next year. Last week we went to Tractor Supply and picked up the double wall pipe, roof flashing install kit and the wood stove.
We got started by cutting a hole in the drywall and framing in the chimney pipe mount, cutting the hole int he metal roof, completed the flashing and sealing and finished up with the cap. It feels great to have that job done.