LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

August 30, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

While hurricane Irene hurled her wrath up the East Coast last weekend, the weather at PHF was beautiful.  We attempted to work on some long overdue projects in between making phone calls to check on family members who were caught in her angry grasp. Prayers were answered and we are relieved that they all fared well.

On Friday John and Sonny worked on step three of building the smoker. It is beginning to take on shape, even though at this stage it looks more like a hunters blind or a kids play house. You are able to see now how the doors will fit across the front and where the grates will sit at the base of the enclosure.

Step three completed.

Also on Friday our solar hot water heater and panels were delivered. As of yet we are not sure when we will install it. Sonny plans to place the panels on the mudroom roof. At this point I am not sure how it will all work. That is a blog for him to write. The delivery service unloaded everything right there on the driveway. Sonny used the Kubota to move it over near the woodshed. He drove the Kubota and I held onto the box to keep it from banging into the tractor and possibly doing some damage to the panels. They are pretty tough though. It appears the Kubota tractor has come through for us again. I don’t know what we would do without it. It has become such a staple here on PHF.

Keep it steady.

Sonny and Harold have begun to bush hog the pasture that sits on the right side of our property. Its the same area as the infamous tree that got caught in the crook of another. Harold obtained some good experience using the bush hog and I believe is now an expert. They didn’t get it finished, but it is amazing to see how much bigger the pasture is than we had imagined. They still have to remove a few tree logs before finishing.

I haven’t complained much on the blog about how the shower Sonny and I installed in the bathroom has been a thorn in my side. All I can say is that it has been a real festering wound for me. Here’s a little advice for all of you that are planning to install a new shower. Do not purchase one that has umptine pieces and parts that have to be sealed together and get one that has a sturdy base. Ours leaked continuously and we were unable to successfully troubleshoot the area that the water was oozing out from.

Well our son and his wife came to Mama’s rescue and have offered to help us put in a new one. We have picked a fiberglass style that is much sturdier than what we had put in originally. We wanted one that was all one piece, but had to settle for one that is two pieces so that we can get it through the door. Harold is also going to install Roma Stone flooring like he installed in his house in Texas before they sold it. Thank goodness he has experience.

Saturday Sonny and Harold removed the old shower and flooring while Clarissa and I went to pick up feed. They had it completely gutted by the time we returned home. The floor was wet under the vinyl flooring and we finally found where the leak was coming from. It was coming from the area of the drain pipe. Now, this is another reason to get a shower with a sturdy base. I think the shower base we had was flexing when we stood on it allowing water to leak underneath. I have had fans blowing on the floor to dry it out before the men start to work on it this weekend.

Sunday and yesterday were down days for me as I had a little intestinal virus. I was able to lay on the couch all day (between bathroom visits) and watch episodes of my current favorite show that Sonny orders from Net Flicks. I figured rest was the best remedy. Today I feel pretty good and have started to can up the bazillion organic carrots that my bargain hunter daughter-in-law brought me. Thats ok this winter we will be glad to have them and I have no doubt in my mind that we will have some jars left for next winter. We have not been successful at growing carrots in our own garden.

Must be a sick day for Moby too. Oh wait, I think thats just a lazy kitty.

Sunday Sonny was able to go to Two Lynne’s farm and help them put up hay. He got some OJT on running the square baler and fixing it. No, he didn’t break it. It’s pretty common for the strings that tie the bales together to break or become jammed. A lot of these balers are well used but still have a lot life left in them. He enjoyed having a chance to get some baler experience and help our neighbors at the same time. Between my cousin John and Carol and Two Lynne’s Farm we might become decent homesteaders. Hopefully someday we will be able to pass on our experience to someone else. That’s how it works.

This coming weekend will be the Labor Day weekend. Here at PHF  we will definitely be laboring. So much to do…such little time. Life is good!


FIREWOOD AND BUSH HOG

July 31, 2011

Sunday

Sonny

Our son Harold and his family were down this weekend. He has been helping us get out firewood stockpile ready for this winter. Although we still have a long way to go we are getting a pretty good start cutting rounds. We will get the splitter out later towards fall and get them split up and loaded in the woodshed.

Cutting rounds

Let me tell you that the Kubota RTV we picked up earlier this summer has been a real help around here. We are able to just stack the rounds in the back and once loaded we can drop the tail gate and use the hydraulic dump.

Loading the RTV

When we finished up with that tree we changed mode and hooked up the bush hog for some field cutting. Last week we got the logs out of the field and cleaned up the brush so we were ready to go.

Kubota w/Bushhog

 

We will be doing it again next week also. Our primary heat is from out wood stove and we burn about 5 cords each winter. The great thing is having all our electrical power supplied to us from the sun, the solar panels have been working excellent for us and out battery bank keeps us in power for the nights.

 

 


ONIONS, GARDEN HATS AND CHICKS

May 11, 2011

Wednesday

Linda

Yesterday when I went to town I looked for some onion sets to buy. Of course I am always a day late and missed the rush on onions ( I can just picture frenzied gardeners with shopping carts pushing each other like a roller derby match toward the onion set display). I did manage to find a mixed bag of onion sets hidden in a corner containing twenty each of red, yellow and white bulbs. It must have been bumped out when two carts clashed during the onion derby and rolled to a corner to seek safety. Our victory. We may as well have an assortment of onions. The red onions are great for grilled shish ke-bobs.

My first order of business this morning was to get the onions planted. I also planted my yellow straight necked squash plants I picked up yesterday from Lowes. Since the greenhouse catastrophe nixed starting any zucchini plants early I went ahead and made three hills and put four seeds in each.

Walking through Tractor Supply yesterday I found a nice straw garden hat that fit just right. The straw is woven in a pretty pattern on the crown to give my hot head some ventilation and it has a string tie so it doesn’t blow off in a strong breeze. The brim is big enough to keep the sun off my neck, but not so big like some hats that can shade the person next to you too. I wore it today while I was working in the garden and I have to say I give it an A+ for comfort.

Ready for work and stylish too.

The little chicks are starting to become more comfortable in their surroundings. Today they ventured out into the coop pen for the first time. It started off with one brave barred rock that tentatively peeked out of the open hatch and then stepped out onto the ramp. She cautiously put one dainty foot in front of the other and went slightly further out until she caught sight of a bug and threw caution to the wind to catch it. The rest of the teenybopper flock soon followed and the bug games began. Soon they will take an even bigger step and blend in with the older flock off to explore the wonders of PHF.

Get ready, get set, GO!

Whose There? Where did it go?


ODD JOBS WEEKEND

April 17, 2011

Sunday

Linda

April showers bring May flowers but they also make it difficult to get caught up on outdoor jobs. All weekend we have been dodging rain drops while attempting to catch up on some projects. Of course Friday was the usual trip to town to give Lowes and Tractor Supply their weekly cut of our paycheck. Throughout the week I make a list of things we need to pick up and am usually jotting down add ons while Sonny steers Festus down the highway. That old truck has carried so many loads from those two stores that it should be able to drive us there all by itself.

Friday afternoon we took a ride on the four wheeler up the back hills of our property. The four wheeler has been a life saver…literally… It has saved us from huffing and puffing and whining every step up the hillsides. We aren’t as young as we used to be. For two years we have wanted to clear away some of the trees that the logger let fall across the paths. Sonny was on a roll using the chainsaw to cut up the fallen trees like a seasoned lumber jack. It was a good thing I ate a big breakfast because I expected to roll the logs off the side. We were making excellent headway until the chain came off the bar. Of course all the tools were back at the house.

We were able to clear a good portion and some of the logs, most were so rotten so we were able to just break them apart. Just because the chain saw was out of commission didn’t mean our work was done. We walked the steep property line and put new ribbons on the trees to mark our boundaries. We actually enjoyed working up there and it was nice to see the buds starting to show on the trees, especially the red bud trees.

The greenhouse is on the mend and moved back to its original location. Sonny and I used ropes wrapped around the base on each end like a handle. We then lifted it, taking shuffling baby steps as we turned it completely around and settled it into place next the garden.

Back in place and looking better.

Sonny replaced some of the broken parts with the new ones we had ordered, but there are still more needed. He marked all the pieces with a silver marker so we could keep track of what we will need to order. It is looking much better and he was able to put in a few of the panes. Before long it will be as good as new and I think we may not need the roll of silver duct tape after all.

We brought the lawn mower out of storage and gave the grass a trim taking just “a little off the top”. PHF is beginning to shed its winter robes and is stepping into the festive colors of Spring. One of the steps in that direction was to clear away the wood bins from the porch, giving it a good sweep and putting up the SWING! You heard right. My swing is back and I couldn’t be happier. I think I hear it calling me for nap.

Looks comfy.


COLD CHICKEN FEET

December 8, 2010

Wednesday

Linda

We have had some sporadic sunshine today which lifted the spirits of all. Even though it was only about twenty degrees outside it felt warmer because the air was dry. It wasn’t that bone chilling cold you sometimes have to endure this time of year.

Since the sun was shining I thought the chickens might like a reprieve from the confines of the coop.  The rooster this morning sounded like he was crowing, “let us out!”  So, to appease my feathered friends I cleared a small section of snow in front of the coop hatch and put out some scratch.  I’m sure they get bored in the coop.  I must have pansy chickens, because they came out only long enough to eat the scratch and then quickly retreated back into the coop.

Burrr! My tootsies are freezing!

I left the hatch door open just in case they decided to step outside some more for a stretch and wing flap, but I don’t believe they did.  I guess I will have to get them some chicken snow boots.  I don’t hear the the chickens in Alaska crying.  They go out in colder weather than this.

On second thought maybe my chickens are geniuses.  Why go out when its cold if the lady wearing the goofy Elmer Fudd hat is stupid enough to come out and take care of you.  Fresh straw underfoot feels better than snow and that cooked oatmeal still warm from the pan….delicious.  That warm water is great to drink too.  Who needs a frozen beak.

Yea, whose the pansy here and whose the sucker.


SNOWY SOLAR PANELS

December 6, 2010

Monday

Linda

The hectic days of Spring planting and Fall harvest are behind us, but that doesn’t mean we get to hibernate through Winter here at POF.  Cold nights mean a wake up call at 3:00a.m. to put more wood in the stove.  I’m talking about on nights that are 20 degrees and below.  It’s supposed to get down in the teens tonight.   We insulated the house very well so it would stay fairly warm if we didn’t stoke the fire but it wouldn’t be that toasty warmth you enjoy waking up to.  We do have propane wall heaters as backup if needed.

The first chore of the day is usually to scoop out some of the ash from the stove and get the fire going again.  In cold weather the stove is your lifeline to cozy comfort. That and a cup of coffee which I didn’t get till much later this morning.

Snowy solar panels

No sun today and more light snow means minimal power being absorbed by the solar panels.  It is imperative to keep the panels clear of snow even on an overcast day.  Although there was no direct sun the panels still absorb whatever light there is during the day.  Even the light reflected from the white snow can be utilized as power for the panels. So, second chore of the day….Turn on the generator for a charge and sweep the snow off the panels. Which I did about four times today.

Cool squeegy gadget

Luckily the snow was light and fluffy like packing peanuts.  Sonny bought me a long handled squeegee that works great for dragging the snow off. Last year we only had a broom which wasn’t even close to being long enough to reach the top of the PV Array.  The right tools make all the difference.

Next stop, the chicken coop.  I turned on the solar lamps that Sonny installed to give them some artificial light on this grey day.  I wasn’t sure if the battery would be charged enough from the solar panels on top of the chicken coop since we haven’t had sunlight for days.  A flick of the switch and the coop went from dreary to cheery.  I switched out the water container and replaced it with one that wasn’t frozen.  I know they have heated waterers but I think they use electric.  That would not be an option for us.  So my job will be to switch out the water containers frequently throughout the day.  Chickens need plenty of water even when temperatures are freezing.  I only collected two eggs today, but that is to be expected in this weather.  The chickens didn’t want to go out in the snow today and I don’t blame them.  I added some more straw on the floor and I think that will give the coop some more warmth.

A quick stop by the woodshed to grab a load of wood and finally back inside the house for a cup of joe.  With the snow continually coming down this circle was completed numerous times throughout the day.

I did get a chance to finish filling out my Christmas cards except for a few of Sonny’s friends of which I can’t find the addresses for.  I will have to get them from him later.

Even though it was cold out and the snow wasn’t blowing Ruby and I decided to walk the mile down to the mailbox to post the cards.  It was actually an enjoyable walk.  I made sure I dressed warm in the Carhart coat Sonny bought me, a wool scarf, mittens and my brown plaid Elmer Fudd hat with ear flaps down. Just like the right tools make a job easier the right winter gear will keep you warm.  I’m sure I looked very enticing in my ensemble that included L.L. Bean boots and an orange grocery bag left over from Halloween to tote the cards in.  It was a colorful accessory that complimented my brown color scheme and it could double as a beacon for hunters not to mistake me for a deer.  In my case that would probably be a moose.

It looks like the next two days will be the same.  More snow, more grey skies and cold.  It’s been a busy day and I think I hear the bed calling my name, or could it be that pesky 3a.m. alarm I hear.


LAST OF THE SOLAR PANELS

November 26, 2010

Friday

Sonny

Last week we finally received the last of our solar panels.  The system is a full 3.7 kw.  I know that doesn’t mean much to most of you but when we originally designed our PV solar system I knew right away I would be “building” it in stages. We just didn’t have the money to get it all at once.

Although I don’t think we will ever be completely finished. Next year I hope to get a solar hot water system ordered and start that install. Right now we have a propane tank and I would rather let the sun heat the water and that would easy my wallet on buying propane.

I also may start thinking about either a small wind generator or a micro-hydro to help keep the batteries charged on the short winter days and the days of heavy clouds. We seem to only get some wind in the winter and our stream only flows when it rains – heck it may take both systems who knows.

I do know that next week will be time for a load of donkey manure for the garden thanks to John and Carol and “Buck and Doe Run”.


%d bloggers like this: