Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mid-week update

The "warm" temps have stuck around.  We've had highs in the 20s.  I guess that is about to end. Boo and hiss.

This past Monday was a publishing day.  We did awesome!  Paper was done by noon. *happy sigh*  Now my attention is on the next issue which is the first issue of January 2014.  Wow!  The year went by quick! 

Nothing too exciting happened on Tuesday.  I spent most of the evening working on my latest knitting project, "Tri-Light", designed by Vicki Howell over on the Bernat website. 

I was cranking along on this until Tuesday and I think I lost my steam.  Rows seemed to take forever. I'm done with the main portion and have started working on the edging.  Row 3 confused me. Mostly because of the placement of the stitch markers that is done on Row 1. Do X pattern for so long, then knit to marked stitch. Well ... Stitch markers moved because of YO's and I have a feeling that I did some interpreting, rather than actually following the pattern.  Hope to have this done this weekend. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday I took my son to religious ed.  Turns out it was the Christmas program.  Nothing quite like being caught off guard.  My son was not happy.  He told me that what he was wearing was not appropraiate for a Christmas program, i.e. Orange shirt and jeans with holes in the knees.  I'm proud of him.  He went up there and sang.  He did get the deer in the headlight look that he is famous for.

There was one part that was a bit funny.  There was a "special guest" and everyone had to sing "We wish you a merry Christmas" and the special guest was to enter the hall and walk down the main aisle.  The special guest missed his cue.  The song was sung a second time, a bit louder and the special guest still didn't appear.  The MC went "ONE MORE TIME!" and the song was sung even louder and the special guest finally appeared.  You guessed it -- Santa!  Santa handed out treats to all the kids and the program was over.

On the way home my son told me that he's "over his stage fright" but if he's "not wearing 'proper' stage clothes" he will get his stage fright.

My boy cracks me up!

Tomorrow is his holiday program at school.  His new school really puts on a good show.  I was very impressed last year.  This year I think the theme is "Feliz Navidad." I must remember to bring the iPad so his dad can see the program too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cold, cold and more cold

The last couple weeks my area has had artic cold temps.  No fooling. I can't remember the last time we've had temps this cold this early in the season.  Last winter season the cold snap didn't happen until January, I think. 

Check this out.  It's from Dec. 11, 2013

This was posted Dec. 11, 2013 after the 6 p.m. news.  We were one of the coldest places on earth. Brrrrr. 

We had perhaps two days where the temps were above 0 degrees. Friday the temps hit 14 degrees.  Heat wave!

This a.m. I woke up at the temps were back to -9 degrees with a -29 degree real feel. I don't want to leave the house.

The sun is out but it's such a liar. 

There has been more snow the last few days.  Inches at a time.  Out in the county it hasn't been too bad, thankfully.

 Check out the snow blanket on the chicken coop.  The girls and the roo are nice and cozy in there.  Perhaps bored, but warm and safe. My guy and I have been giving them a few extra treats and I bought them a shallow tote and filled with with some sand so they could give themselves "dust" baths.  The girls didn't know what to make out of it at first.  They did enjoy getting themselves some "grit." Thursday when I checked for eggs I noticed that the chickens had been using their sandbox for more than a litter pan. I do need to figure out something for them so they can trim their claws. 

The snow is at least a foot deep in the back yard.  I haven't done any scientific measuring.  The snow goes up past my snow boots, in some areas of the yard.  With all the wind we've had I'm really surprised that some leaves have stayed on the trees. 

It's hard to take good pics when you refuse to leave the warmth of your house. 

Front yard. It's so pretty with that fresh two inches of snow. 

Christmas is in 10 more days. We are ready!  I'm bummed the Christmas lights didn't show up in this picture. 

Work has been kind of crazy the last couple weeks. Our redesigned website when live on Friday.  The office has also been working on the Christmas issue.  There was a few things that popped up unexpectedly. I think everything is good to go though.  My fingers are crossed that we will have a fairly smooth publishing day. I hope.

Since the cold hit my knitting mojo came back.  I was cranking out dishcloths for a week.  Last week I found the Tri-light pattern over on I picked out some Caron simply soft yarn and this morning I cast on.  I think it's gonna be a quick knit.

The yarn is not black, it's plum perfect.  I don't understand why it showed up so dark.

When I was looking through the photos on my camera card I saw some photos of the chickens that my son took before the snow.

Tailed Red and No-Tailed Red checking out the food dish while I was cleaning out the coop.

My Wynadotte, Grandma P and White Cheeks looking for bugs. 

My sweet little baby roo. I have a feeling he was getting ready to his dance of desire to impress the ladies. 

Earlier this week DH was in the coop checking on them and he said that Grandma P was up on the nesting boxes, trying to get down.  She isn't so graceful getting down from higher places.  (On account of her not having a rudder, according to my MIL. I.e. no tail feathers). Well, according to DH she looked and paced, before finally taking the plunge and jumped off the nesting boxes.  Grandma P landed on the roos back and piled-drived him into the wall.  Oh my poor little guy!  Actually, I can't help laughing at the the thought of him minding his own business and suddenly being landed on and pushed around. I tell ya, he gets no respect. I see him frequently trying to impress the ladies and they run from him. 

I'm also pleased to report that the babies have started laying eggs.  They are so little and perfect. I don't have any good photos to share. We've been getting 5-6 eggs a day, consistently, even with the temps dropping.  They have a light on 12-14 hours and the coop is warm enough that it's not freezing in there. The girls are earning their "scratch" money.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow day!

We had our first snow day of the year yesterday. The snow came in waves starting Monday night.  The snow, freezing temps and darkness made for an interesting drive home. Tuesday I went into work late and left early. So glad I left early because the snow really started coming down.

On Wednesday the school districts closed down for the day. Thank goodness. After nearly white knuckling it home Tuesday I don't know if I'd attempt the roads yesterday.  The snow was coming down at least an inch per hour.  For a few hours I'd say it was coming down 1.5 inches an hour. It was very wet snow. We would be outside for a few minutes and come in and our hair would be as wet as if we had just stepped out of the shower.

I did my part to keep the deck cleared of snow.  After a while the snow was covering the deck as quick as I could clear it off.   I gave up after a while. Though I do need to take care of it today.  The snow is all done -- for now.

Front yard.  Branches so full of snow they are touching the ground.

Branch on the ground, branch on the ground, looking like a fool with your branch on the ground ... 

This was yesterday morning just a few minutes after DH did the first snow plowing.  

There was time for fun yesterday, in between cleaning up the snow.


My son had a blast getting pulled around. 

Last night just after 8 p.m.  The snow had finally started to slow down.  The winch on the ATV failed and my guy couldn't use the blade on the ATV anymore :-(. Such sadness.  First major storm and we couldn't run the snow plow through it's paces.  We figure the winch failed from being over used for a project we did during Thanksgiving week. (subject for a later blog entry).

The snow blanket on our roof this a.m.  After settling all night the snow is 17 inches deep.

There is an artic front coming through now.  Cold temps and stronger winds.  What snow that is on the pine trees is getting knocked off.  It's interesting to be looking out the window and see a sudden dump of snow from the branches.  The pines can hold a lot of snow.

Trust me, this lump of snow is HUGE!

Today the schools were closed again.  It gives the road crews lots of time to make the roads drive worthy.  I spoke to my coworker this a.m. and she was trying to head to town and she said the snow was drifting over the roads. Yuck!

Just as well.  Look at what my car looks like this a.m.

Poor things never had a chance.

Didn't bother to brush the car and truck off.  Gonna be interesting when I finally do brush them off.  That's a LOT of snow.

When I was looking at the back yard I saw this little one.  Mr BlueJay was gripping that branch and didn't fall off even though the branch was bouncing around in the wind.  This critter brought a smile to my face.

I'm pretty confident there will be school and work tomorrow.  The time off has been enjoyable and I'm grateful for it. I have a feeling that come January we will have at least one more snow day.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One year

This month marks the one year anniversary of buying my (our) cozy little homestead in the woods.

This realization hit me earlier this month.  It's gone by so fast and I am in awe of all that has taken place over the year.

I also think back to all the stuff I wanted to do and it was months ago when I decided to do X and Y and either I haven't started or ran out of steam.  Oh well.

Things have been busy around the homestead.  Mostly outside stuff.  We figured we had better take advantage of what nice weather we had.  That is why I've been so quiet the last couple months.  The weather has gotten colder.  Time to start hunkering down.

Let's see if I can recreate what we've been up to.

Back in September my DH ordered 20 yards of dirt for the garden.  It was decided that the best place for a garden was in the meadow to the left of the house.  It's not really a meadow but a open side yard that doesn't get used.  It gets plenty of sun (we hope). 

 All three of us moved dirt that weekend.  A raised bed frame was built by DH while my son and I moved dirt.

Twenty yards of dirt is a LOT of dirt.

To keep from feeling overwhelmed I didn't look too much at the pile that seemed never-ending.  After DH finished the frame he helped my son and I move dirt.

A view to see how deep the dirt was being spread out.   It rained a bit that day and we still moved dirt.  The truck had quite the workout that weekend.  Some friends had railroad ties and said we could have them.  Then a trip or two to town to Menard*s.

Completed size is 22 x 32. The depth is one foot.  Now we are all ready for next spring. After this project was complete I immediately began dreaming of what things to plant next year. 

September we realized that a mama deer was including our back yard in her "rounds." She also has a set of twins that look to be about a year old.  She's pretty tame. She has gotten as close as five feet to us when we toss bread out to her.

October we decided to get serious about snow removal and purchased a snow plow for the ATV.

Bring on old man winter! Rawr!

We have had some snow already, but none of it stuck.  For now, this beauty is resting in the garage.

On October 3 my sweet little baby roo did his first crow.  I loved it!

A few days later I stood out in the rain and got a little video of him doing his song and dance.  I enjoy seeing him. I joke that he looks like he's doing a drunking Irish jig.

On October 11, 2013 the first egg was laid.

One of the most perfect things I've ever seen

I am in awe of this egg and each egg we have received since.  It was confirmed that our "Red" was the first to start laying.

In October we also lost a few Wynadottes.  Very sad. :-(  It's not easy to lose chickens.  It's accepted that it's going to happen but it's still not easy.

We also added four adults to the flock.  Saw and ad on craigslist for one year olds for sale.  I'll admit, they are a motley group but they've integrated into the flock very nicely and everyone gets along.  I have some pictures from when we first got them but nothing recent.

The grey one is "grandma/grandma pucker/big fat mama." She's a riot to see run.   The other one is "No Tailed Red."

This girl is "Blackie"  She lays pretty blue eggs. 

This is "Red with a tail" and the Barred Rock is "Junior"

I know, real imaginative with the names. It works.

The end of October we purchased 14 Guinea Fowl.


It really is a funny story when I think back on it.

We got them Oct. 30 and brought them home.  The next day when DH got home he opened the pen to pull out one of the chickens and he closed the pen.  The Roo and one of the guineas tussled and managed to pop the pen door open.  The Roo and one of the little ladies ran around for a bit but we caught them.  The guinea, on the other hand ... we chased the guinea for more than an hour before giving up and going trick or treating.  When we got home the guinea was up on the roof of the coop.  DH snatched him/her and got it in the coop.

The next day right before DH came home from work, the guineas managed to pop the door to the pen -- AGAIN -- and made a jail break. They were out in the woods heading for where ever.  There was no way we were going to catch them.

Yeah ... twelve of those guineas are now in my freezer.  Made for an interesting Friday night. Yes, I'm laughing as I think about this.

The remaining two are over at my neighbor's.  She has a flock of guineas and what were we going to do with just two guineas?

Another outdoor project is done but I'm going to save that for another post.  I think this has done a fairly good catch up.  Also, I have a loaf of bread in the oven and I don't want to forget it!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Update on chicken stuff

Almost as if on cue the weather switched on Sept. 1 and got colder.  Fortunately my sweet guy decided he wanted to spend his birthday insulating the chicken coop so they won't freeze this winter.

 About a month ago he put a ceiling in and over Labor Day weekend we went to Menard*s and got some sheeting and rolls of insulation. It's even been wired so that we can have a light on in the winter and even put in a small heater, if necessary.

 There used to be more perches but the girls decided that they only liked one so when the boxes and perches were re-installed it was decided to just keep one.  The girls hop up onto the nesting boxes and then hop up onto the perch.  

 We've also had these nesting boxes installed for a while.  There is some interest in the boxes but not much.  The babies have spent a few nights in there though.  I think it's because it's enclosed and when the four of them cram themselves in it stays pretty toasty.  Hard to believe that those little bodies generate so much heat.

Artsy photo of the coop
 Probably about a week after we got the babies we knew we couldn't keep them in the house for very long.  Being the capable man that he is, my DH build a "nursing/brooder" coop for the babies.  He did it without any plans and had it done under eight hours. He is so smart that way.  I love how he can think something and make it come to life.

Here are the babies jumping out of the pen after being let out when we get home from work and school.  All the chickens free range together in the evenings and the weekends now.  They still haven't formed a cohesive group but they are getting used to each other.  Since it's starting to get colder out at nights we've been having the babies sleep in the coop. But putting them in their pen during the day.  The big girls still chase and harass the little girls and I don't think they can be enclosed together just yet. 

We are pumped that we will have this for next spring when we get a new group of chicks. 

 My guy built this almost all from scraps we had around the house from building the big coop and pen.

Here's an inside view of the coop part.  Yup, we put windows in on the sides.  The babies spend some time in there during the day.  They even have a perch to sit on. 

I'm debating on whether the coop part should be painted to match the big coop, which matches the exterior color of the house.  Yes, we are cute that way. 

Beets were planted in these two containers and they didn't really do anything.  I'm sure it's because of the cooler temps we had this year.  So we let the chickens have at the foliage. They loved it.

 Thankfully, the chickens have no interest in the lone two tomatoes we have.

They would rather eat the moss off the birch in the back yard. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend project

A few weeks ago my guy was able to get some kitchen cabinets that were in need of some TLC and rehab work.  This week the cabinets were delivered to the homestead and this weekend my DH set them up in the garage.

Don't they look great?  Now my guy has got himself a work bench, a place for tools, storage space and a place for processing any deer that may be harvest this year and the years down the road.

We purchased the counter this weekend at Menard's for a great price and he installed this a.m.

The cabinets completely change the personality of the garage. It's a bit brighter and the garage doesn't feel as cluttered as it used to.