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.
August 31, 2010
We have two new additions to the Pot Hole Farm family. They are future mouse catchers and bug eaters. Right now they are a little small to do their job, but I can see there is a tremendous amount of courage and strength under their fuzzy little coats. The first addition is courtesy of Ronald and Vickie. He is a cute little gray and white striped tabby. The stripes on his forehead form a capital M so I named him Moby.
He loves attention and for you to hold and stroke his soft kitten fur. He’s about ten weeks old now and still needs to grow into the loud motor that starts up the second he sees you. The second mouser is courtesy of John and Carol. I took in two barn cats from them before that were about a year old and they took off like they had been scalded as soon as I opened the cage. We never saw them again, but I believe one of them may reside at a farm about two miles down the road. So we thought a younger kitten may adjust to new surroundings a bit easier. She is coal black and is about four months old. I named her Minnie Pearl. I just picked her up today, so she needs to stay in the cage for a day or two. I imagine she will be ok to come out tomorrow.
Right now she is not very happy and I was unable to snap a picture of her. Moby wants to be friends and although Minnie Pearl is very sweet, she doesn’t appreciate him jumping on top of her box and staring at her through the cage bars. She sticks her paw through the opening swiping at him and growling what I can only imagine is, “just wait till I get of here you little twit.” All in all I think Moby and Minnie Pearl will be great friends but most importantly they will help keep the mouse population down.
By the way, to all my family and friends out there, the Inn is full as far as dogs and cats are concerned. No more homeless, pitiful, or needy pets. I don’t care how cute they are. John and Carol aren’t aware of it yet, but there is a rooster in my coop looking for a good home. I think he is kind of partial to them and would love to live on a donkey farm. All he asks for is a few girls to keep him company. Fair is fair. A rooster for three cats.
August 17, 2010
Sunday morning Sonny and I decided to crack open the FRANKEN EGG. We were unsure what might be hiding inside the grotesque oblong egg. We carefully lifted it out of the foam egg carton and examined it to make sure there were no cracks or a giant beak sticking out. The shell was smooth and unblemished. I raised the egg, my hand poised to crack it against the side of the bowl. Sonny looked at me. I looked back at him. Our eyes questioned each other whether we dare open this brown monster egg that could possibly contain a fate worse than Pandora’s Box. He nodded giving me the go ahead and I hit the egg against the lip of the bowl. I pulled the shell apart and the contents plopped into the bottom of the container. There was no Ostrich Chicken hiding inside or evil spirits. No smoke came swirling out or screaming banshees.
Instead there were two yellow yolks pathetically looking up at us like yellow eyes. One eye was broken when it fell into the bowl. Nothing scary there. We scrambled them up and had a side of bacon and toast. The Franken Egg is no more.
August 2, 2010
Tonight I took a few minutes to sit in my recliner, sip on a cup of coffee and puff on my pipe. I got to thinking about how much we have got completed on our Off-Grid home over the last year. A year ago last April we were just getting started with the finish sanding of the drywall mud. Next came the plumbing, sewer system and black pipe work in the crawl space. That next weekend we started buying the unfinished oak kitchen cabinets, bathroom and kitchen sinks. Oh yea, we had the well put in also.
Suddenly we wanted to have a mud room added and the porch extended. In September I ordered the solar system and within a couple of weeks we had a back hoe digging trenches and running 10 gauge power lines in PVC pipe. Panels installed and inverters and converters working in the electrical room we suddenly had power before Halloween.
Had to prep the water pipes to keep them from freezing and wire up a temporary back-up generator in the event of short winter sun shineless days. That winter was a lesson learning session from hell but we make it through everything anyway.
Spring came in a hurry and we got the barn built and the garden planted, summer slipped in right behind it along with a chicken coop, wood shed and our root cellar.
Within a week or two, we will be canning about 2 million tomatoes.
July 19, 2010
The root cellar build is finally completed. Ronald, Vickie, and their grandson Paul came early this morning to put the final pieces of the root cellar together.
They installed R19 insulation batting in the rafters and then covered it with sheeting to make the ceiling. Then they put on the roof vent and gutters. Ronald built five rows of 19″ wide shelves with 14″ spacing between the shelves. That will leave enough room to stack two quart jars on top of each other if I need to. It’s a bit intimidating to look at all that shelving and wonder if I will be able to can enough stuff to fill them. I think my few jars of pickles and conserve are going to look lost in there right now. Ronald who is forever thoughtful, built me two step stools from leftover lumber so I will be able to reach the top shelves.
It will make it a whole lot easier than trying to climb the shelves like a monkey. I think I might be too old for that anyway. Might break a hip or something. Last but not least the door was installed. Now it actually looks like a building instead of a tomb. The only thing Sonny and I will have to do is paint the ceiling and and the outside block. Oh, and can, can,can….and hope and pray that our potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins do well. I think the completion of the root cellar was a little bitter sweet for Ronald. After all, it was him who has overseen and built every building on this property. Don’t worry Ronald, you don’t know it yet, but I have a few more projects up my sleeve.
July 1, 2010
Today the big red concrete truck arrived. They poured 10 yards of concrete for the garage floor and the Root Cellar. Sometime next week we will order the block needed for the walls and get the blocks layed.
The Floor is Poured
Below is Root Cellar
Root Cellar Floor
June 29, 2010
June is typically the early cut month where many in the East start bailing hay. We will be back in September for the second cut. Some make square bails and other do rolls. John raised miniature donkeys so square bails suit him. They typically stock about 500 or so in his loft to make it through the fall and winter each year. I think the trailer handled about 75 bails stacked on it.
On Tuesday he cut the hay field and afterwards there were several good sunny days for curing. John went out a couple of mornings when the dew was clear to ted for even better drying. Then on Thursday he changed out the tedder on his Ford tractor for the rake and about 2pm got to the field and started raking his windrows in the field. On Friday morning the tractor was ready to go with the bailer hooked up, by mid-day John was making rows. Linda and I showed up mid afternoon to give him a hand. Now with the rows cured and ready to go, John got busy.
Linda and I grabbed John’s other tractor that was already connected to the car trailer and we started stacking the bails from the fields. While Linda and I got started loading the bails on the trailer, we noticed John and Carol on the far side of the field behind the bailer. Seemed the twine broke several times and the knotting thingy (a technical term) was hung up.
Using pliers, a knife and a couple dozen bad words they got it fixed up and were back to bailing. After a couple of trips to the barn we got the hay in the loft we were finished.
John worked me until I was exhausted. I was toast. I quickly gained a new respect for what John and the farmer goes through. I thought to myself…this was just hay today. Thinking back I think John still had plenty of gas left in him.
Insert Technical term here