Archive for the ‘Building’ Category

Here’s a quick look at the latest progress in building our house- hand scraped flooring.  John ordered the scraper online and tried it out- the scraper is from Hardwood Industry Products if you’re looking for one (no sponsorship, just a link). The floor is made of salvaged pine boards that used to be a wall in an old house. John scraped and sealed it over the past week.

Although he’d removed some paint from the boards with the planer and some with a hand paint scraper, the blades wear down a lot quicker with boards that have paint on them.  If you’re curious about details, ask below and I’ll answer.  He scraped the entire board, leaving some high spots/patina.

Next time (on boards without the paint) he thinks he will try just at the edges to smooth the transitions between boards but leave more of that old patina on the boards.  (Also would be a quicker floor.) He spent 2 days scraping this one- approximately  12’x14′ room.


Close up hand scraping a foor


Hand scraping a floor


hand scraped floor- upper portion has been scraped, lower portion has not

Hand scraped floor sealed

Hand scraped floor sealed

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor

hand scraped floor

hand scraped floor close/profile

hand scraped floor close/profile

hand scraped floor detail

hand scraped floor detail

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More progress has been made on our chicken coop and garden.


John has been putting the touches only a finish carpenter can on the chicken coop.  He has trimmed out the doors and windows to match the house (all 2 windows we have trimmed there…).  He’s also finished the cupola for venting.  It looks very nice, I think.  But it’s taken a lot longer than necessary for chickens!  He looks out the door and can enjoy it, though.  If it looked like a thrown together mess, it would bother him a lot!  Good thing I didn’t build it myself.

The coop is 8×12 with a 3.5×8 garden shed in the back and a 8.5×8 chicken section in the front.  It still will gain a window in the left hand side and eventually some insulation and a little electric for a lights and a couple outlets.

To review:  Our plan was to enclose a garden/chicken run.  It’s split in half, so that each year the chickens get one side for a run and we get one side for a garden.  We’ve pretty much completed the project.  A little dirt to fill in the trench where the chicken wire runs into the ground and the “panel” that can be opened to let in a tractor to till each year needs to be attached.  I let the chickens out in their side of the enclosure this morning to attack the weeds that have grown so well in there!  There’s also a small run off of the coop that will be fully enclosed for a most always accessible but secure chicken run.

Their favorite weed seems to be milkweed.  Weird.  I though it was mildly poisonous, but they’ve been eating it with abandon and choosing it to eat first for the past several weeks and have been doing fine.

The first rooster (my “pink” chick) attempted his crowing yesterday morning.  He’s the big one in the first picture.  I am suspicious that several more are roosters- they have a deeper red tone to their combs and around their eyes.  They seem to be larger as well, and one (“red” chick has small wattles now- need to check and see if that’s to Chantecler standards).  I haven’t tried too hard to count how many MIGHT also be roosters, because it’s still hard for me to tell and I don’t want to know how many expensive chicken dinners I’ll be having yet.  I am also pretty sure that two of the 4 ameraucanas are roosters- both with red feathers flecking their bodies.  The ones that are clearest in the photos here I think are both female.  The tiniest one I’ve named “Sparrow” as that what she reminds me of, both for her brownish coloring, her size, and her strong, constant chirping!  No one else has official names yet.  Just colors.  I’m still amazed at the size differences from “Sparrow” to my “pink” rooster.


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All 10 chanties are still going strong and getting big!

I got 6 bantam ameraucanas to join them- something fun, a little color, and maybe some blue/blue green bantam sized eggs.  They’re about a week younger.  I lost one bantam the day after I got them- fine one minute, and dead half an hour later.  I lost a second one 2 days ago- not sure why.  I can only think maybe it got trampled?  John turned on the table saw to use in the basement and scared them.  Other than that, it, too, was healthy, then very sick/dead within hours.  I also had one bantam that got “pasty butt” that I had to clear off several times, but it’s still going strong.  Here’s hoping the rest stay healthy and alive!  John just wants one of them to look like the corn flakes rooster.

We’ve been making progress on getting a coop built.  Here’s what it looked like last week

And here’s what it looks like now

We’re planning to work on it some more this evening!

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Here’s some new pics of the girls, closer up.

Ellie Mae



Eleanor “Lannie”

I’ve been a cow owner for almost 3 weeks now, and have been milking Ellie for over 1 1/2.  I’m SUCH a wimp- I can only get about 2 cups worth of milk before my arms and hands give up on me.  In my defense, Ellie’s been “holding up” some on me, but mostly it’s because I haven’t milked a cow since I was a teenager (and didn’t do much then, either!).  But she is very nice, workable cow.  I milk with her tethered in the field (no stanchion built yet) and she usually stays pretty still for me, even when the grain is gone.  It by no means is meeting our 5+ gallons a week that we use, but it’s a start.   Here’s my first day’s produce.  I get about twice that much every day right now.

They cows are much happier now that they can be free and together in a pasture rather than on a tether.   I think they missed being able to interact with each other and it made them a little crazy.


The first section of fence got posts (compliments of John, my parents, my kids, my brothers tractor and my grandpa’s post hole digger) while I picked up my Chantecler chicks the day before Easter.


John helped me to string the top wire for that section and he and my dad put in posts for the second section this past weekend.  I’ve been plugging along at stringing barbed wire since then.  I got a small section done when Norma unclipped her halter on the water bucket one day.  Rather than try to catch her, I just figured I should get the pasture done. The cows have eaten anything edible in the small section already, so I got the rest of the fence done yesterday afternoon so they wouldn’t hate me for starving them.  They were so happy to have fresh grass!

The calf is still tethered so I can keep her separate from mama, or I’d get NO milk.  We managed to catch her once to get the halter on, but couldn’t catch her again without that lovely rope clipped to it!  Cranberry is gentling down a little, but has a ways to go.  Norma and Lannie won’t really let me touch them yet, but at least they’re in the pasture now so I don’t have to try to move them anymore!

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We’ve been looking at our goals for the year and trying to decide project priorities.  This of course all comes after taking care of the kids!

Major priority number 1:  We’ve been planning to build a masonry heater since the time we started drawing our house.  Now we’ve reached a point that we can take some more definite action.  We’re talking with someone who knows how to design them, digging out our supplies, and brushing up on all the information we’ve collected over the last few years.  Hopefully we’ll be able to have a drawing in hand over the course of the next several months and start building it this fall/winter.  I’ll share some more of the details as plans solidify for us.

Major priority number 2:  Chickens.  Okay, a much greater priority for me than for John, but he’s willing to let me do this one this summer.  The plan is to double our current garden space, divide it in half, and enclose it.  This will let us run chickens in one side and garden in the other, switching sides every year.  The idea is the chickens get to clean up the goodies left from last year, including bad insects that can over-winter in the garden, as well as scratching things up and making “deposits” for the following year’s garden.  It’s an idea I ran across at backwoods home that I think would work well for us.  I’ll let you know what kind and why later.

Major priority number 3:  The garden.  Last year was our most productive year so far, and I’m hoping for even better this year.  I’ve ordered most of my seeds.  I’m trying heirloom varieties, with the hopes of being able to save some of my own seeds for next year.  I doubt I’ll get into saving any of the biennial crops this year, but we’ll see.  I’ve also selected some less common varieties to try. More about what I picked and why later.

Major priority number 4:  Alright,another major priority for me.  John’s not thinking it’s a good idea this year, but I just can’t help but keep an eye out… I’d like to get at least one Dexter cow to milk.  Eventually 2-3 on a staggered freshening schedule to meet our milk needs.  Right now we go through 5 gallons a week, and the girls are only 2 1/2 and 1!  The major obstacles right now are time (of course) and a barn.  For some reason, the garage isn’t available to me for this purpose ::)

At some point, I’ll have to do a posting of our goals for the year.  Maybe it will help us stay a little more on track if I have to check in here with how things are going!

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