March 30, 2013

The Princess is Peeved

Surprise was not pleased with the situation. Lily, in the background,
worries she might have to share a stall with Surprise & her attitude.

"What are you going to do about the Princess?" Dan asked. He was referring to Surprise. She and Alphie had been residing in the birthing stall, but it was time for them to be moved out. We both knew Surprise wouldn't like that.

When we expected our first crop of kids two years ago, we divided the goat shed into two stalls. That gave me a way to separate the expectant doe and give her privacy for birthing and the first few days afterwards. Since Surprise had the first due date, she was the first to spend time in the birthing stall. For some reason she liked having it all to herself and claimed it as her own from that day onward. Even Jasmine, who could make Surprise mad by hogging anything good to eat, respected her territorial claim to this stall.

However, the time has come for Ziggy to use this stall.

Ziggy waddles back to the goat shed. 

Ziggy, who looks like she could pop at any moment. Ziggy, whose next potential due date is April 5th.

All of this points to our need for a better goat facility. We were happy to have this outbuilding to begin with, and glad to be able to divide it into a chicken coop, goat shed, and milking room.

In Jan. 2010 we modified one of our two existing outbuildings. We added
a goat stall on the right, and made the left side into a chicken coop. In the
middle, where the door is, we made a milking room and feed storage area.

As I've lived with it, however, I've made mental notes of what ought to be changed:
  • I'd like a large, general area for shelter and loafing
  • I'd like room for two private stalls, to be used only for pregnancy confinement, kidding, or for other hospital reasons.
  • I'd like a larger milking area, with both an "in" door and an "out" door for the girls being milked. Otherwise there's a goat clog as they try to push through at the same time.
  • I need a kid stall, to separate kids from their moms overnight, so the moms can be milked in the morning. 
  • I need a gating system to accommodate all this plus give me room for the wheelbarrow. 

Building a real barn is out, because of cost. This shed, except for the leak in the roof ("fixed" with a tarp) and the deteriorating siding, is structurally sound. While nothing is set is stone yet, the current idea we're looking at is this...

Very rough, non-technical sketch of idea for goat shed using existing shed

The idea would be to add a gambrel or arched roof on to the front of the current shed, creating a loft which is open underneath. The open area would serve as an open air loafing area and rain shelter. The goats would still be able to go inside if needed. Hopefully, we could use the loft for storing hay. The chickens would be moved to a new coop and I'll be able to convert the current coop and milking areas into stalls.

We're talking about putting a milking parlor and storage area out of the carport of the other outbuilding. 

The "Coal Barn"
The carport on the left might be an option for a milking parlor. You can see
the goat shed behind it to the left, not far away. The carport would have to
be enclosed, but it would be easy to run a water line out there. I'd love that.

There are a lot of details to work out and likely changes to be made, but this is the direction we're thinking in for the time being. The first step will be building a new chicken coop, which Dan hopes to do this summer. In the meantime I'm thankful for what we've got, and happy to make do.

The Princess is Peeved photos and text © March 2013 

March 24, 2013

We Think We Found The Old Well

Dan may have found the old well. He recently looked online for tips on finding old wells, and we think it's been under our very noses all along.

There is a broken cap lying around somewhere too.

The pipe as you can see, has been filled with dirt and likely the well is too, either because it's dry or because the residents wanted municipal water when it became available. Our neighbor told us his old well is dry. Like us, they'd hoped to use their's for watering their garden.

Arrow points to location of the pipe we think indicates the old well.
Also note the dryer vent to the left below the porch windows.

The only "bad" thing is that it's located so close to the house, as in inches from the foundation. I say that because I don't like the idea of having to dig so close to the foundation to figure out if it indeed is the old well, and whether or not it's salvageable.

We need to know, because we've already got an idea for the greywater from the washing machine on the back porch.

Idea for laundry greywater soil filtration bed. The sketch also includes a
gate across the driveway from our  privacy fence / firewood storage area

The idea entails building a greywater soil filtration bed along that side of the house. Because it gets the blazing summer sun in late afternoon, we'd like to frame the windows with pergolas, and grow something vining for summer window shade. I don't know what yet, but something that doesn't mind the alkaline laundry water. In the sketch above we've also finished off the privacy fence/firewood storage with a gate.

Before we can get to that, we need to finish the outside of the house on that side. That's a job of work because it involves upgrading the old, original windows, and new siding. The bedrooms (middle one at least) are next on the house goal list  after the bathroom (on hold till warmer weather). Every time we've replaced a window we've had to do the exterior siding as well. I reckon what I'm getting at is that there are a number of steps to be done first, so we have some time to investigate.

It would be wonderful to have the old well as a source of irrigation water at least. Even better if the water was potable. That's all speculation and we're not even positive it is the old well. It will be interesting to find out.

March 21, 2013

Canning With Tattler Reusable Lids

I feel like I'm probably the last person in the universe to jump on the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids bandwagon. I first learned about them several years ago over at Rural Revolution. At the time I checked out the Tattler website, noted the small fortune it would cost to buy enough for the amount of jars I put up every year, and then put them on my "someday" list. I wasn't in a hurry to try them, mostly because of the huge stockpile I've had of regular canning lids. Being the stock-up sort, I always keep a year or two's supply handy, especially when I can get them at Fred's for $1 per box of regular lids. This winter I'd finally run out and decided it was time to purchase my first Tattler lids.

Each box contains a dozen BPA free lids and rubber rings.

There isn't a whole lot of difference in canning with these as opposed to self-sealing lids. They involve using two pieces instead of one, with the rubber ring first, then the lid, then the screw band.

Canning the bone broth I made a few days ago.
Rubber ring first, then the Tattle lid, finally the screw band.

The biggest difference is that they must not be screwed down tightly before going into the canner. The jars must be allowed to vent, so after tightening I loosened about a quarter of an inch turn. Upon removal from the canner, then they are screwed down tightly. To make sure the seal completes they must be allowed to cool completely, 12 to 24 hours.

The next day it was time to remove the screw bands and test the seal.

Testing the seal by picking the jar up by the lid

This is done the same way as conventional self-sealing lids, but picking the jar up by the lid. If it holds, the seal is good. Out of 17 jars I only had one that didn't seal properly.

Since they are reusable, I didn't want to write on the lid. Usually I make a note of the contents and the canning date. Instead, I used a permanent marker to write on the jar.

Contents and date written on the jar with permanent marker

This isn't permanent permanent, it will scrub off. I just find it a handy way to write notes or dates on jars. Of course if the contents are dark in color, I'll have to squint to see what it says. Also, storing with the screw bands isn't necessary. I do it because otherwise I'd have to find a place to store a big box of unused bands.

Prying the lid off gently with a butter knife.

Removing the lids is easy too. Care must be taken not to damage the rubber rings, but that's easily accomplished by prying it off with a butter knife.

My conclusion? I'm absolutely won over. I know the rubber rings will wear out and have to be replaced from time to time, but that seems better than disposable canning lids, any day.

March 17, 2013

Make-Do Baby Goat Coat (And An Update)

Update first. Our little guy is doing well and has a name.


We were trying to think of something signifying "First Kikobian," and thought of Adam or Alpha. Neither seemed quite right but then, neither did "Babykins," "Skeeter," "Junior," or "E2" (for Elvis 2). That's usually the extent of our creativity, LOL. Then we hit on Alphie, and it just seemed to suit.

I am pleased to report that his congestion has pretty much cleared up, and that he's a regular little jumping bean. His first two nights though, our temperatures were dipping below freezing and I was worried about keeping our little guy warm. Some folks use little kid size sweatshirts, or buy Lambie Jammies, or even make them. I needed something pronto however, so this is what we came up with.


Don't laugh, it's the sleeve of an old sweatshirt. I cut off the sleeve and cut two slits for his front legs.


He wore it for two days and then Friday the day topped out at 71° F / 21° C, so I took it off. A warm night followed and spring appears to be here for the time being!

Surprise, however, has been running a low grade temperature so I've got her on antibiotics now too. With an assisted birth like she had there's always a risk of uterine infection. She still has her appetite though, and is drinking well, so that's a good sign.

Next to watch appears to be Ziggy.


Today is one of her potential due dates although she never seemed to cooperate with Gruffy. However, she's as wide as she is tall now.


I can't really feel any baby heads, butts, or feet, but if she is carrying a single, I might not feel anything. This was the case with Surprise but singles are very unusual with Nigerian Dwarfs. Because of our set-up I'd like a little more time in-between kiddings, but human plans rarely factor into it. Still, that would be better than a June due date, resulting the fiasco that might make Elvis the daddy. Then again, maybe she's just fat!

March 14, 2013

Whew, Our First Kikobian




This little guy was born at 10:10 last night, but not without a little drama. On Tuesday, I noticed that Surprise's udder didn't seem as flabby as usual, and the next day, yesterday, it filled. She stayed standing in her stall all day, and wouldn't even come out for a brief nibble in the new pasture. We were past the circled due date on my calendar, so I knew this was it.

At 9:08 pm I went out to check on her and discovered that she had started pushing. Shortly the birth sac appeared. I looked for the tips of two front hooves and a nose, but saw none. After half an hour, there were still none, and this was worrisome. After Jasmine's stillborn, I dreaded ever having another difficult birth. They're only supposed to happen in some 90-odd% of kiddings and this being my fourth, meant my average would be 50%! No fair.

I went to my birthing kit and got out a glove and lubricant, to go in to "see" what was happening. Surprise was not at all cooperative and would not stand still. At last I was able to feel two legs and teeth. That's a normal presentation, but what was the problem? I realized that what I was feeling was actually knees, not feet. There wasn't enough room to get my hand further in to feel anything else. Did they even belong to the same kid? It was going on an hour of hard labor by now and that was too long. I prayed and managed to guide the feet out. With the next few contractions I pulled. Surprise screamed and was finally able to get the head out. A wet, limp baby boy soon followed.

He wasn't moving, he wasn't breathing. I grabbed my towels to wipe away the birth sac from his face and nose and began rubbing vigorously. Surprise licked him like crazy. Finally he moved and whimpered. More rubbing and licking and he began to complain. I was so relieved.

My kitchen scale weighed him in at 10.5 pounds. Besides being large, he already has tips of horns showing! Of course, he was born at about 158 days gestation; average for a goat being 145 to 155.

I made sure there were no other kids coming, that the placenta was mostly out (no need to dispose of it, Surprise will eat it), that he was dry, had a tummy full of colostrum and his selenium/E, and could wobble about and find a teat all by himself. Because our temperature was supposed to dip back down below freezing, I hung the heat lamp in the stall and finally got to bed around 2 am. I went back out at 5 to check. Mother and baby were doing fine.

We're not out of the woods yet. His breathing is congested and I'm concerned about pneumonia. I've got him on oral and subq antibiotics, and making sure he stays warm. What I did not have in my birthing kit was my bulb syringe. I thought it was there, but couldn't find it when I needed it. I'm not positive that would have helped, but it is a must-have item.

And about the title of this blog post, "Our First Kikobian"; what is a Kikobian you may be wondering? Not a real breed, just something I made up when we decided to get our Kiko buck, Elvis. I had no success trying to breed Kinders, so I thought maybe I could start my own dual purpose breed, a Kiko/Nubian cross. This little guy is the first, but not the last.

Whew, Our First Kikobian © March 2013 

March 13, 2013

Hello Pasture

Lily, Surprise, and Ziggy

The other day I let the girls into the new pasture for the first time. It was for about 10 or 15 minutes, just enough time to give them a taste without upsetting their tummies. Ruminants can have problems with fresh pasture when first introduced to it, specifically bloat. This has to do with their digestive microbes. Changes in diet must be slow to allow for changes in the microbes too.

Even though we planted the pasture last October, I hadn't let them in until now. This was partly to give the tender new growth a chance to establish itself, but also because we've had so much rain that the ground has been very soft and soggy. The day before yesterday, however, it had dried out somewhat and so I let them in for a brief visit. They loved it. I timed it right before evening feed, so that they'd be willing to come out when I called them!

I'd already introduced the fresh forage as "green feed," where I cut big basketsful of the pasture grasses and dumped it into their hay feeder. Later I increased it to twice a day. Before I actually let them into it, I made sure they'd just had a hay feeder full of a new armload of hay. I also made sure their baking soda feeder was fresh and that they got probiotics with their evening grain ration. All of that may have been overly cautious on my part, but I definitely do not want any problems.

The next day I increased their visit by another ten minutes. So far so good. I'll gradually increase it to full time because this must be their home pasture this summer.

For more information and several good articles about bloat, including how to treat it, the following are helpful resources:

Hello Pasture © March 2013 

March 10, 2013

And, the Rest of the Garden

Last post I showed you my strawberry bed. This post I'll show you the rest of the garden, though there isn't much to see except for the daffodils.

There is a big bed of daffodils at the top of the garden.

I planted quite a bit last fall but it was late going in. Much of it didn't grow, likely due to the long dry spell during October and my not watering enough. The rest of the garden looks like this....

Coming along: creating new pathways and forming new beds.

I'm still working on the new beds and pathways as you can see. I'm still mulching too. The ground is still very wet, however, so going is slow.

No-shows were sugar beets, table beets, carrots, collards, cabbage-collards, celery, and broccoli, except for a few stunted plants. At least my garlic is coming along nicely.

Garlic bed with over 100 cloves planted.

I also have a small seed crop of hull-less oats.

A small patch of hull-less oats. 

I hope it does okay. I'll save all the seed and keep replanting until I have enough for a good sized patch.   I tried a patch of hull-less barley last summer, but it didn't make it.

My peas and turnips did well and they've all been harvested except for a few turnips. I'm getting a little lettuce and a little kale and the multiplier onions are coming along too.

Lettuce grew sporadically, but we get a salad now and then.
Those are multiplier onions planted in the bed with the lettuce.

I also get a few parsnips now and then; the volunteers grew so much better than the fall planted ones. I'm also getting a few mangels for the goats.

Besides the strawberries, I've been transplanting the asparagus.

Last year's stems of transplanted asparagus plants. 

I hated to do it because this would be its third year, and we could have gotten several nice meals from it. But, it was originally planted in a companion row with the strawberries that I had to move because of the wiregrass. The asparagus had to be moved too. At least it grows tall enough that I'll be able to keep it well mulched and the wiregrass at bay.

The one thing I'm not happy to see are the numerous deer tracks.

Deer track in the garden. 

Our deer are funny. They are selective. One year it was only the buckwheat that they'd eat. Another time it was the beet tops. Last year they went for the sweet potato vines.

Our last expected frost is around the middle of April. Then I can start planting in earnest. I have seed potatoes ready to go in and a few cabbage plants I started from seed. I'm really looking forward to that.

And, the Rest of the Garden © March 2013 

March 7, 2013

This Year I'm Gonna Have Strawberries

At least this year I hope I'm going to have strawberries. Trying to grow strawberries had been a real battle for me, ever since the first year I planted them. The problem? Bermuda grass, AKA wire grass, my arch nemesis. My strawberry saga goes like this:

Strawberry bed being swallowed up by wire grass
August 2012. Wire grass taking over my strawberry bed. Again.

One of my projects this winter has been to try to free my strawberries.

wire grass goes dormant in winter
At least I can see the strawberry plants

No, wire grass cannot be eradicated. Trying to pull it out is like pulling on wire embedded in the ground. It grows about knee high tall with a root system just as deep. Even a teeny section of root left in the ground is enough for it to take over again in record time. If left alone, it will choke out anything and everything in the way.

tangle of wire grass roots & strawberry roots
Photo from March 2011 showing the messy mass of
wire grass roots strangling this poor strawberry plant

My best hope is to hold it at bay long enough to at least harvest some strawberries. Besides fresh eating, Dan loves his strawberry jam.

the weeding of my strawberry bed
A slow but losing battle. Is it possible to co-exsist?

Will I succeed? Only time will tell.

March 4, 2013

DIY Vitamins & Minerals For Goats

One of our self-sufficiency goals is to feed our animals from our land. I've blogged about this previously, focusing on grains, feed rations, and protein:

Another area I've been working toward, has been growing our own vitamins and minerals. Ideally, animals should get these from a natural forage diet. Most soils, unfortunately, have become depleted over the years, so that foraging alone rarely meets their needs. Now, common practice is to feed scientifically formulated pellets, complete with protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Many goat owners also purchase vitamin and mineral supplements, and deficiencies are an ongoing topic on many a goat discussion list and forum. I've dealt with them too, and have gradually added items to my goats' diet; currently I offer them Sweetlix Meat Maker Goat Mineral, Thorvin Kelp, and baking soda free choice, and Diamond V XPC Yeast Culture sprinkled on their feed. They also get black oil sunflower seeds and chopped sweet potatoes with their feed, for added vitamins.

Always in my mind, however, is how I can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals myself. Besides our self-sufficiency goal, the cost does add up, especially for things I can't get locally like the kelp and yeast. Shipping is expensive, but also, several times I've had to wait when these items were on back order.

One thing we're working on, is remineralizing our soil, one field at a time.

Another thing, has been researching how to grow my own vitamin and mineral supplements; things that I can either feed fresh or dry to use as a top dressing on their food. This is what I've been researching and what you'll find listed below. I won't say it's a complete list, but it's a start. Neither is it universal, I'm mostly just listing things I can grow or find in my area.

I'd also like to mention a couple of links that give good information on mineral function and deficiency in goats. That way I don't need to write all that out here.

And finally, here is my list of vitamins and minerals, and foods that are rich in them. I've relied primarily on three sources: Health-Alicious-ness.com, The Third Age's Spice and Herb mineral Guide and Foods High in Vitamins, and Juliette de Baïracli Levy's The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable. The information on kudzu is here. Links to the sources are provided below. Additional information from the book, if any, follows.

Vitamin A (& BetaCarotene) - sweet potatoes, carrots, greens (kale, turnip, mustard, dandelion, spinach, collards), butternut squash, dried herbs (parsley, basil, marjoram,dill, oregano), fresh thyme, cantaloupe. Also raw grape leaves.

B vitamins (see also "B Vitamins & Ruminants", Dairy Goat Journal. UPDATE: This article shows that goats can synthesize their own B vitamins, so that supplementation is not strictly necessary. I'm including them here as part of my original information. B vitamin deficiencies, if they do exist  are apparently more of a problem with goats fed a diet high in concentrates.)

B1 (thiamin): yeast extract, seeds (sesame, sunflower), dried sage, rosemary, thyme, and kudzu*.

B2 (riboflavin): yeast extract, dried herbs (spearmint, parsley), wheat bran, sesame seeds, and kudzu*.

B3 (niacin): yeast extract, bran (wheat & rice), and and kudzu*.

B5 (pantothenic acid): bran (rice & wheat), sunflower seeds

B6 (Pyridoxine): bran (wheat & rice), dried herbs (garlic, tarragon, sage, spearmint, basil, chives, savory, rosemary, dill, oregano, and marjoram), seeds (sunflower, sesame), molasses, sorghum, bananas

B9 (Folate): yeast extract, dried herbs (spearmint, rosemary, basil, chervil, marjoram, thyme, parsley), sunflower seeds, greens (spinach, turnips, collard), cowpeas, broccoli, wheat germ, cantaloupe, bananas, endive, flax seeds

B12 (cobalamin): there are no plant sources for vitamin B12. However, goats can synthesize their own with cobalt. The only plant sources I've seen listed for cobalt are green leafy vegetables some herbs, with no specific details.

Vitamin C: (can also by synthesized by livestock) fresh thyme and parsley, greens (kale, mustard), broccoli, rose hips, cantaloupe, tomatoes, dried basil, rosemary, and citrus (my goats love chopped citrus rinds).

Vitamin D: sunshine

Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, dried herbs (basil, oregano, sage, parsley, thyme)

Vitamin K: dried herbs (basil, sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano), fresh herbs (parsley, basil), greens (kale, dandelion, collards, turnip, mustard, beet, Swiss Chard), broccoli, cabbage, carrots, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs

Calcium - Dried savory, celery seed, dried thyme, dried dill, dried marjoram, sage, oregano, spearmint, parsley, poppy seed, chervil, dried basil, comfrey, sesame seeds, flax seeds, raw turnip greens, Dandelion greens, Kale, Mustard Greens, amaranth leaves, collard greens, and kudzu*. Also savory, spearmint, rosemary, chervil, fennel and coriander seed. Book: chamomile, chicory, cleavers, coltsfoot, horsetail, mustard, sorrel, plantain, willow.

Cobalt - is the precursor to vitamin B12 and goats can synthesize their own B12 if they get cobalt in their diet. I have not been able to find a specific list of goat acceptable foods that are rich in cobalt (i.e. vegan). Several places vaguely mention green leafy vegetables and pulses, but cobalt is usually found in animal foods, which goats do not eat. As with all minerals, plants can only take up what is available in the soil, which is why we're including cobalt in our remineralization program. My goats currently get their cobalt from their goat minerals.

Copper - sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, & squash seeds, Dried Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Savory, and Parsley. Also dried basil, coriander leaf, spearmint, fennel seed, and dill. Book: burdock, chickweed, chicory, cleavers, dandelion, fennel, garlic, horseradish, sorrel, yarrow.

Iodine - seaweed. Commonly Thorvin Kelp is offered to goats, complete nutritional analysis here. Book: asparagus, cleavers, garlic. I live inland so obviously cannot grow seaweed. Kelp, however, is used as a soil amendment, and that may be an option for me to try. How much of the iodine is picked up by plants I don't know. It's something I'll have to research further.

Iron - Dried Thyme, dried Parsley, dried Spearmint, dried Marjoram, Cumin Seed, dried Dill, dried Oregano, dried Coriander, dried Basil, ground Turmeric, ground Savory, Anise Seed, Fenugreek Seed, dried Tarragon, dried Chervil, dried Rosemary, seeds (pumpkin, squash, sesame, sunflower, fenugreek, and fennel), and kudzu*. Also bamboo. Book: asparagus, blackberry, burdock, chicory, comfrey, dandelion, nettle, parsley, raspberry, rose, scullcap, strawberry, vervain, wormwood.

Magnesium - Bran (Rice, Wheat, and Oat), Dried Coriander, Spearmint, Dill, Sage (not for milking does), Basil, Savory, seeds (pumpkin, squash, watermelon Flax, Sesame, & sunflower), and molasses. Also parsley, fennel seed, marjoram, oregano, dill & thyme. Book: Carrot leaves, dandelion, hop, marshmallow, meadowsweet, mullein, oak, slippery elm, rose.

Manganese - dried ginger, dry spearmint, parsley, dried marjoram, wheat germ, bran (Rice, Wheat, and Oat), seeds (pumpkin, squash, sesame, and sunflower). Also basil, thyme, fennel, coriander, savory, oregano, dill, and bamboo.

Phosphorous - bran, wheat germ, seeds (pumpkin, squash, sesame, sunflower, and flax). Book: chickweed, dill, golden rod, marigold. [Note: pregnant does need a particular calcium to phosphorous ratio to prevent hypocalcemia, more on that here.]

Potassium - spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Collards. bananas, parsley, dill, basil, rice bran, molasses, seeds (squash, pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon). Also chervil, coriander leaves, spearmint, fennel seed, marjoram, ginger, and oregano.  Book: borage, carrot leaves, chamomile, couch grass, dandelion, elder, honeysuckle, meadowsweet, mullein, nettle, oak, peppermint, plantain, scullcap, wormwood.

Selenium - sunflower seeds, bran (wheat, oat, rice), garlic, chervil, fenugreek, ginger, and dried chervil, coriander, parsley, and dill seed.

Sodium - Book: cleavers, clover, comfrey, dill, fennel, garlic, marshmallow, nettle, violet, woodruff

Zinc - wheat germ, seeds (pumpkin, squash, watermelon, sesame), and buckwheat. Dried herbs and seeds: chervil, basil, thyme, parsley, coriander, sage (not for milking does), savory, ginger, and seeds (dill, coriander, and fennel).

That's my preliminary list. Much of it I already grow, or have the potential to grow. Much of it I already feed to my goats. My goal is to grow more, and especially dry more, to feed during winter. I can't give you specific dosages other than to say that herbs used as top dressings to feed are usually given in amounts of teaspoons or tablespoons.

Lastly, there are two more webpages I'd like to pass along. Both are useful resources in regards to herbs for goats:

A book I would recommend is Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby. I did a book review if you're interested, here. This information is also reproduced in my book 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, appendix C.

*Analysis is for cooked kudzu leaves and roots.

March 1, 2013

Tub-A-Dub-Dub

We appear to be stalled out on the bathroom remodel. The problem? The tub. Well, actually the tub isn't the problem, the winter temperatures are.

If you've been following this series of posts, then you probably know that we're keeping the original tub, a clawfoot.

Old photo of the original tub, with our Rascal (no longer with us)

The tub has been, for quite awhile, in the hallway.

It's nice that we have a 5 foot wide hallway.

The reason for this is that it needs refinishing. The outside surface had chipping paint. The inside wasn't too bad, except that the shine had worn off in the bottom of the tub, and there was some pitting, plus a dip in the bottom. This dip held water, so that there was a permanent water mark there. We debated whether or not to try and fix it before recoating the inside of the tub.

The challenge with all this, is that everything, paint, adhesives, finishes, all need minimum air and surface temperatures. These must be anywhere from 64° F (18° C) to 72° F (22° C), depending on the product. The temperature in that part of the house is usually in the upper 50s (mid-teens). We've kept the space heater running continually, but to heat the entire cast iron tub to 72, we had to resort to the brooder heat lamp. On top of that, the products all need good ventilation, because of the chemicals. Opening the doors and windows is obviously quite counterproductive!

Consequently, the going is slow. We have made some progress however. Dan started by applying something decorative to the outside.


It's a cast iron doo-dad from Hobby Lobby. I suppose they would call it a decor item. He stuck it on with JB Weld. Then he painted the outside of the tub.


The tub fixtures are chrome, so he spray painted the legs similarly.

Here's where we are at the moment.

This is the back side of the tub.

He did decide to try and fill the dip, but I don't think that's gone as well as he hoped. His next step is undecided, but this must be done before he can apply the new tub finish. If it weren't so rainy and muddy outside, I think he'd happily switch to an outdoor project.

Even though winter seems the best time for indoor projects, this kind of thing is better suited to summer. The tub though, is the next thing to install in the bathroom. It has to go in before the sink and toilet. After that, all we need is towel racks, the mirror, and a door. And we're done. So close and yet so far away.

[UPDATE: Dan was finally able to finish the tub in April. See Tub-A-Dub-Done for a photo, details, and the next challenge we faced.]

Tub-A-Dub-Dub © March 2013 by Leigh