August 4, 2010
A loud rumble of thunder was my alarm clock this morning. It was 0630 and the overcast sky was dark. We already had a good storm last night with rain and thunder clappers and lightening. It appeared this morning may be a repeat. I threw on some clothes, let the dogs out and hurried down to the coop to check on the chickens. I wanted to make sure they had plenty of food and water in case this was going to be an all day thing. The storm passed but the sky was still cloudy.
I thought I better turn on the generator for a while since we didn’t have much sun the day before to charge the house batteries. I hit the manual start button. Nothing. I checked to make sure that the main switch that connects the generator and the charge controller was in the correct position. It was. Tried the manual start switch on the generator again. Nothing. I checked the propane tanks. Full. At this point I was at the end of my trouble shooting abilities. I emailed Sonny at work to see what he thought. Apparently we left the cut-off switch on the generator panel “on” and it ran the primary generator battery down.
So Sonny called John (since we don’t have a phone yet) to come over and hook up a external charger to it. In the meantime I dragged our backup gasoline powered generator out of storage and hooked it up and with a couple of pulls on the rope it fired up. It worked just fine. I let it run until John and Carol showed up. I was already supposed to be at their house this morning. Instead they had to run over and rescue me. Once John got everything set up they went home and I let the battery charge for about three hours. I think we’re fixed now. I won’t be leaving that switch on again.
The sun popped in and out for a while and I headed over to John and Carols for the afternoon. Carol was going to make me a home cooked meal. We spent a nice afternoon in her studio. She’s a great sculptor. She is working on a bust of John. I’m amazed at the likeness. While the artist was at work I played with some clay myself. My fourth grade art teacher would have been proud of the Magnolia flower I created. I didn’t intend for it to be a magnolia but that’s what it turned out to be. You can’t argue with art.
I was getting hungry and looking forward to that ham and homemade macaroni and cheese. John came in and informed us that a big storm was on it’s way heading East from Ohio. Sonny called shortly after that and said it was getting real close. Around here the roads can quickly flood and there is always a chance that a tree can get washed out and fall across them as well. I had animals at home to think about so I hightailed it home. I was getting close to my destination, about two miles away from home when the sky became angry and drops of rain hit the windshield. The wind was beginning to whip up and blow leaves and brittle branches off the trees. I prayed a tree wouldn’t fall on top of the Jeep.
When I reached the mile mark there was a huge limb across the road. Thank goodness it wasn’t a full sized tree. I really hate backing up (my tracks look like a snake). With some maneuvering I was able to drag the big branch to the side of the road. When I reached home the wind had blown over my patio chairs. Once again I let the dogs out before the storm really hit hard and ran down to check on the chickens. They were safe and sound in their little coop and I battened down the hatches. The dogs and I, and of course Annie the cat were safe and sound while the storm raged. I just wish I could have had my ham dinner first, but that’s August.
Heat, humidity, and big storms to remind us that we are pretty small in the scheme of things, and the Almighty has the reins.
3 Comments | Alternative Energy, Battery Bank, Chickens, Dogs, Generator, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Solar, Solar-Powered | Tagged: Chickens, Rain, Storm | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
August 3, 2010
Every morning while the coffee is perking I go down to the coop and let the chickens out into the pen. The dogs usually follow along with me. Yesterday when I entered the coop I spied two beautiful brown eggs tucked in the straw of a nesting box. Like Indiana Jones picking up a rare archeological find I grabbed them up and put them in my basket. I still get excited every time I find our egg treasures. It feels good to be able to supply our own eggs without having to run to the store. It’s another step towards self sufficiency.
The hens clucked and cooed while I filled the food bucket and checked the water supply. They were out of water. With the water feeder in one hand and the egg basket in the other I went outside to the rain barrel. We have a rain barrel on the corner of the coop that is attached to the rain gutter. It has a lid to keep out debris and a spigot on the bottom that gives us easy access to the water. It makes life a lot easier not having to tote water from the house. I set the egg basket on the ground next to the rain barrel while I cleaned and refilled the water feeder. Shiner and Ruby watched as I did my chores. They were such good and patient little dogs. I never thought to hook the egg basket on the hook next to the door.
When I stepped out of the coop door after returning the water feeder I was surprised to see one of my eggs broken, still in the basket and Shiner licking his chops. He couldn’t have been more guilty. I yelled at him, but it was really my fault. I guess Shiner wasn’t the only one with egg on his face. It was another lesson learned for me, but for Shiner….I think…not so much. The next time eggs are within reach he would do it again. Although, he may think about it for a micro second longer.
9 Comments | Chickens, Dogs, Harvesting, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency | Tagged: Chickens, Dogs, Eggs | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
August 1, 2010
The root cellar needed more dirt pushed up on the outer walls. This will give it some more insulation and help to keep the inside at a more moderate temperature. Sonny called Robert to see if he could bring over his backhoe and do the job for us. He came over Friday and in a blink of an eye he had his backhoe unloaded and went to work on building a bank of dirt on three sides of the cellar. His teenaged son came along to get some OJT from his dad. While he was observing his fathers skill at maneuvering the backhoe he asked if we wanted any laying hens.
He has about forty chickens and wants to lighten his load a bit. He said we could have them for three dollars a piece. He would throw in a rooster too if we wanted one. We passed on the rooster and said we would take three hens off his hands. What the heck for nine dollars we get three hens to practice getting eggs from. Yesterday we came home from town and found a note on the door that said our new chickens were in the pen. They made themselves right at home in the coop and nice plump hens they are too. I think they will fit in nicely here at Pot Hole Farm. Especially when they blessed us three beautiful brown eggs this morning.
I guess we’re a real farm now that we have produce coming out of the garden and eggs coming out of the chickens. Who would have thunk it.
6 Comments | Chickens, Farming, Harvesting, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency, Solar, Solar-Powered | Tagged: Chickens, Eggs | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe
July 3, 2010
We got up before the roosters this morning to go to our usual Saturday flea market. John and Carol followed us out in Whitie ( their flat bed truck ). The sun was just starting to rise over the mountain tops. You know the old saying, the early chicken gets the first bugs. Sorry, thats my version. I think the original was something about a bird, but it really doesn’t matter. In any case the early riser gets the best deals. Its usually worth missing that second cup of coffee, but barely.
We ended up having to park the cars in the back forty because apparently there are people who skipped the first cup of coffee and got there before us. We started down the rows checking out vendors when my eyes caught sight of a table at the end of the row. Chickens. Beautiful white Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds. There were a few squawking ducks and a couple of pairs of doves, but I ignored them. My eyes looked like kaleidoscopes as I moved closer. The vendor saw the glint of a sale in my eyes and threw out the hook by saying “five dollars a piece.”
I put my game face on. He wasn’t going to get me that easily. How old are they I asked? He respond with “A year.” We were really looking for some pullets. He pulled out a wooden crate containing five Rhode Island Reds. Two bucks a piece. The chickens looked healthy and a crowd was beginning to form. He loaded them up in a box for me and off we went. So now I am the proud parent of five pullets.
The chicken house is finished except for a few finishing touches, but the girls don’t seem to mind. They checked it out and appear to be comfortable. The only thing we had to do was put up a fence. Since we already had the materials, Sonny, my sister and I knocked it out in about two hours. It was fun watching the girls strut around the pen pecking anything that moved and stretching their wings. They look right at home. The only nightmare we might have is if we made a mistake and ended up with five roosters. To be continued…..
Janice helping with the fence
3 Comments | Off-Grid | Tagged: Chickens | Permalink
Posted by Sonny
June 2, 2010
Ronald, Vicki and Blair have worked hard today. They showed up at 7:30 to start work on the chicken coop. The temperature was cool at that time of morning but by about 9:00 when the sun reached over the trees the sweat started to fly.
The coop is attached to the back of the implement shed. This way we only had to buy materials for three walls. The bones of the structure are finished. It measures 10’x6′ and will have two chicken doors to allow them to either go free range or hang out in the fenced yard. The choice will be theirs except in certain situations such as when we are gone for a few days and someone has to take care of them. Then they will be relegated to the fenced yard for their safety.
Construction of the chicken Coop
We decided at the last minute to leave a 2 foot roof overhang on the front. The overhang will help keep mud from splashing up on the building when it rains and also provide some shade for the chickens. Since we already have guttering on the shed roof we opted not to put it on the coop. I will also put a few low shelters in the fenced yard for them to take cover under in case a hawk comes around. We do have hawks that like to hang around here and they will really be interested when the chickens show up. There are plenty of hidy-holes for the hens to flee to when they are outside of the fenced yard if danger should come from overhead. At night they will be tucked away safe and sound in their coop. That is the plan anyway. We have the usual array of predators, including coyotes and bobcats. Since there are coyotes about we may have to use a heavier gage wire for the fencing instead of the traditional chicken wire.
The skin of the building will be the same green metal roof and white sides as the rest of our buildings. Sonny and I are going to build the nesting boxes and roosts inside. That should be interesting. Hope the chickens aren’t squeemish. All in all I think the chickens will have a great home and hopefully give us plenty of eggs.
4 Comments | Barn, Chickens, Green, Off-Grid, Self-Sufficiency, Solar-Powered | Tagged: Chickens, Coop | Permalink
Posted by lkjobe