Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Grand Coop

Remember this ol' thing? A decrepit horse buggy that we envisioned as an amazing moveable chicken coop six months ago has finally become a reality. After a new wheel rim, stripping it down to the bare bones, lots of 2x4s, a new cedar shingle roof, and a couple paint coats….

And voila!

This is by far the best coop that we've ever built and, hopefully, the most functional.  In years past we've done the A-frame moveable chicken coops, a standard permanent one, and other weird structures to keep the chickens contained but with plenty of bugs to eat. This coop, however, will be perfect for hauling across a couple acres to move the chickens around as needed and be a safe-haven from potential predators that have a tendency to dig underground for a midnight snack (that was surely one of the saddest mornings finding a coop full of blood and partially eaten chickens. Damn raccoon.)

Although it may appear impossible to move this coop due to the weight of the structure, Shaun can give it a push from behind to get some momentum and I'm off like a draft horse pulling this thing around…until I get to a muddy patch. Let's just hope that doesn't happen again or those chickens aren't getting to fresh pasture until summer. Hmm…a draft horse doesn't sound so bad now that I think about it.

Our twenty Rhode Island Reds seem to be liking their upgrade from a rubbermaid bin in our laundry room. Almost 5 weeks old now and I'm eager to stop buying eggs from the store but we'll make it another three months and enjoy watching them grow into little egg-making ladies as we move them around the land, fertilizing as they go...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More Icelandic Knitting

So now they're complete! Two slippers, two inserts and two very warm feet. Traditionally, these wool inserts were used between the outer leather slipper (worn as a "shoe") and the inner wool sock. The design I chose would have been designated to the Sunday-best wool insert due to the complication of the design and multiple colors. On work days the design was simple; a few lines running down the middle or patternless. Although everyday seems to be a work day around here I went for the Sunday-best just for kicks. I think a more colorful design with a complex pattern is actually beneficial to the longevity of the insert as there becomes more padding with the multiple strands of yarn backing the piece. They're additionally great because they're easy to pull out and fit in some of my other shoes!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sacred Sunday

A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Greenhouse is Warm!

This has been a project in the works for almost a month now. I started during a sunny, spring-like week and then it snowed. After another week of waiting for the plastic to thaw, the greenhouse is completed and working like…well, a green house should. It was 75 degrees yesterday morning! Although there's not much going on inside at the moment, I've prepared a cold frame inside this structure in order to start our seedlings today. 

This was a project that was made by yours truly (not that this is a great feat by any means…). This is a year of building for us, as we put together this bare 5 acres into a working homestead, and I have high hopes to end this year knowing how to use most hand tools and power tools alike. I would love to walk into our garage and know the names of those metal-bladed cutting-things and understand how they function. I'm getting there…Yesterday, I asked Shaun where he stores the skill saw and went right to work with it! I'm getting there.

This greenhouse was made from a set of plans that can be found on The Survival Podcast, among many other fantastic DIY homestead projects. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fencing and Fishing

To make a sturdy, long-lasting fence is quite a complex process. It's also a very laborious one. We started the work on our new garden fence this week as the sun shines and the ground is warming. We're using 78" deer fencing and 10 foot poles for corner posts and H-bracing in hopes to keep our orchard trees and vegetable garden away from the resident moose, elk and deer. Many neighbors have complained about their trees getting eaten down year after year and we really don't want to take that risk by using shorter fencing. It feels kind of sad to put up such an imposing barrier on this beautiful plot of land but it will ensure us plenty of food, which, for us, is the central point of homesteading. 

On Saturday, Shaun spent countless hours hand-digging holes for our main gate into the garden. He just barely made it 2 feet down while all of the fencing guidelines say to go at least 40" deep for the size posts we're using. We spend a couple hours scanning the internet trying to find just one article mentioning that 2 feet would be enough and we just couldn't find it. Visually, it appears extremely deep and adding concrete to the stability seems like more digging would almost be excessive. Our theories are fine and well except that we're not experts in the realm of fencing and there is a lot of time and money at stake if corners are cut. A lot of time and money. I posed the question, as I often do when we're unsure of how to proceed, is "what did the old-timer's do?" Would they have cared about a systematic 40" depth and 8' T-stake spacing? I have no idea. Maybe...in their old-timer fashion. Driving along the highway, one can still see sturdy corner posts from decades before on older farms and pastures. They did something right...  Fencing is physics and the pull, weight, angles, are so crucial, so we've decided to follow the algorithms of the internet fencing experts.

Sunday, we decided that a $30 rental for an augur was worth it and so, together, Shaun and I busted out  the remainder of the holes corners, gates, and H-braces. Sometimes the modern way is just easier. And we got our 40" holes.

After the jarring and noisy work with the augur, Lars and I took a break to go "fishing" in our seasonal creek. He caught a three whales and I caught a shark. Not bad for 10 minutes of fishing. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sacred Sunday

A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life

Friday, March 6, 2015

Knitting Icelandic

I have made a half dozen attempts, thus far, this winter in thrifting or making winter slippers. Unfortunately, I have not discovered the right foot warmer and I'm hoping (hoping!) these funny slippers will be just the ticket. This is no superfluous crafting project. We live on wood heat and we definitely don't get up to stoke the fire these days so our cabin is considerably chilly in the mornings, especially the floor. Without slippers this past few week my toes have been numb for approximately two hours each morning. I really, really need these to work…

This pattern comes from Icelandic Handknits by Helene Magnusson with dozens of traditional, folk projects for mostly outerwear that are really beautifully crafted. Many of the patterns call for loosely spun wool. I had to think about what that meant for a few moments while considering what store-bought yarn I could use from my stash and then found a skein of some of my first hand-spun. Very loosely spun (I had no idea what I was doing at the time) and very thick and knobby (total beginner). Perfect slipper yarn. This came from Salvador, our feisty ram lamb, who was meant to be a wether, but somehow ended up with one massive testicle (our first attempt at banding an animal). We found this out one day when the ewes were in estrus and Salvador was wildly running about the pasture trying to hump every girl in sight. 

So here is his grand, fleecy contribution, a pair of slippers for me, a pair for a friend, and (not shown) a pair of socks for Shaun made a couple years ago. These slippers knit up so fast- an hour at most for each one if you can focus without a two year old climbing all over your lap asking to build block towers and eat snacks. Next come the knitted wool inserts, another pattern from the book, that will give them ever more warmth and durability. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sacred Sunday

A day of rest, family, connection, friends and relishing in the sweetness of life