May 3, 2010

Around The Homestead

Miscellaneous events, happenings, ideas, & occurrences, along with any project updates since my last Around the Homestead.

~ I bought a couple gallons of red barn paint and painted the chicken & goat shed. I figured if it's possible to paint a window shut, then a few coats of paint might very well hold those old rotting barn boards together. What. It could happen.

~ We seem to have a neighborhood rooster. Earlier this spring, I heard him crowing in the distance. Over the next several weeks, I noticed that he had started moving around. Sometimes he sounded closer, sometimes farther away. Then one day I saw him in the next door neighbor's back yard. A week or so later, he showed up at the edge of our woods. I wondered if he would do anything when he spotted my chickens. Either he didn't, or he didn't care, because he moved on. I still hear him every day, but I've not seen him again.

~ One morning Rascal and I were standing on the back porch when we heard a crash near the coal barn. I looked to see what I could see, and lo and behold, saw a small dark critter about the size of a cat but shaped more like a beaver. Well, we don't have water around for beavers, so it couldn't be that. I tiptoed closer and startled it, a groundhog who was snooping around in the garden tools. Needless to say, it skedaddled off in a hurry. Unfortunately for the groundhog, it's burrow is now fenced in the goat field!

~ Speaking of the coal barn, Dan took off the door, cut open the wall, & turned it into the yard & garden equipment shed....

Former coal barn, now garden tool shedThe coal is still in there, we just leveled it out. It makes a rough floor, but oh well.

~ I told you about the chickens' first time outdoors. Shortly after that we had a day of thunderstorms so they had to stay inside. The following morning the sun shown bright, but the ground was still wet from the rain. They heard me opening their outside door, and I had a line of chickens ready to go out. However, they had never experienced wet ground before. Each one jumped down, but as soon as their feet hit the ground, immediately hopped up with a surprised squawk. I had a yard full of chickens dancing around like Mexican jumping beans for several seconds. It was great fun for me and they quickly got used to the new sensation.

~ While we were working on the corner post bracing for the goat field, we ran into a problem. We needed a drill, but Dan's battery powered drill had died some time ago. We tried to buy a replacement, but were told that model isn't made any more. That was annoying because the drill was still good, it was just the battery that wouldn't recharge anymore. Instead, Dan decided to get a hand operated brace and bit. Well, the tool guy at Lowes didn't know what he was talking about. He knew what bits were, but the brace had him stumped. Needless to say we ended up with another rechargeable battery drill.

~ Which brings me to our progress on the goat fence. The wire fencing is up and the gates are installed! I've cleaned out the goat's side of the shed, and all that's left is to put in a hay rack, water buckets, salt, bedding, etc). And get the goats. Good thing we're almost done too. That field is becoming so overgrown, the woods are well on their way to having it completely reclaimed by the end of summer.

~ I did pretty well on my winter transplanting project. I got almost everything transplanted that I wanted, and it's almost all doing well: azaleas, rose of sharon (hardy hibiscus), daylilies, daffodils, and even some tulips I didn't know about. The only thing I didn't get to was three forsythia bushes, which I wasn't sure where to put anyway. Maybe next winter.

~ Of my nursery orders, all the trees made it (pears, apples, peaches, and an almond), as did the elder bushes and red raspberries. Sadly my two blueberry bushes didn't make it. Of the two kinds of strawberries, the everbearers did fine, but 9 of the 25 Junebearers didn't make it. Stark Bros replaced blueberry bushes and sent an entire order of 25 new strawberry plants! Guess who's a loyal customer from now on.

~ I can't go into the chicken yard with sandals on as the chickens seem to think my toes are something tasty to eat.

~ Speaking of tasty, evidently chipmunks are. Not that I would know personally, but of the various critters Rascal catches (mice, squirrels, shrews) chipmunks are the only ones he eats.

~ The dining room is actually almost done and ready to show you, except for hanging some pictures on the wall. We've been so busy on the goat fence and garden however, that nothing has been done in or on the house for months!

~ As I mentioned in my last IDC update, we bought another refrigerator. This is not a replacement, rather a second one. We now have two. I know that probably seems odd, coming for someone who expresses a desire to be more self-sufficient. Considering though, our Southern US climate and the fact that we will soon have dozens of eggs and garden produce to contend with; not to mention goat milk in the near future; and in addition I have moths (! killed one this morning) and so freeze and refrigerate a lot of my grains, flours, etc. So, considering all that I feel justified.

We did buy a plain, top freezer, Energy Star model, because top freezer refrigerators use less electricity than side-by-sides. It was tempting to buy one 2nd hand, but I am reluctant to buy appliances that way. Mostly because it's doubtful I can get the energy rating on a used fridge, and I definitely don't want a power guzzler. The Energy Star ones are more expensive, but we really lucked out. In addition to a 10% off sale, we got a $40 manufacturer's rebate, and an instant $50 rebate from our state, which was only being offered for a few days. Obviously our timing couldn't have been better.

~ We found our septic tank and had it pumped. Just in time too, because the leach field was getting quite soggy. This turned out to be due to roots, which were taken care of. We learned that it is only a 750 gallon tank, rather than the more common 1000 gallon. This is okay since there are only two of us, but even so, we've decided to move the graywater system closer to the top of our to-do list.

And that's it for this time.

Around The Homestead text & one lone photo copyright 


Benita said...

First question is what do you plan to do for the greywater? This is something I've wanted to do for a while (why waste that good, sudsy water on the sewer), but never knew how to accomplish this.

Everett said...

It's good to get updates about what's going on with other folks' projects around the homestead. It reminds me that I need to get to work on some similar ones myself!

Michelle said...

I love reading about all you two accomplish, so don't apologize for long posts! Do you have your goats picked out, or at least what breed you want?

bspinner said...

So many interesting things happen at your house.

I would have loved to see the "chicken dance". Aren't animals amazing and funny?

I like your shed. Red. My favorite color for farm buildings. As a teenager I painted many of them on our farm.

Julie said...

I do agree I don't know what is more work my yard or yours. But I do love hearing all that you have done. I can't wait to see the barn all painted!

I love roosters!

Sharon said...

Oh, you made me laugh twice - once for the chickens Mexican hat dance and one for - oh, and we found our septic tank. I'm not sure why that made me laugh too, but I'm glad you got pumped in time. We're due soon - ugh.

Renee Nefe said...

I think that painting the building together is a great idea. I hope it holds up.

Leigh said...

Benita, that's what we have to research and decide. I'll blog about what we learn, and what resources are helpful.

Everett, thanks to the blogosphere, it's like we're all in this together, encouraging one another, motivating one another. I love that about blogging.

Michelle, I'm working on a goat post and hope to get it published on Wednesday. It'll bring everyone up to date on where we are in the process.

Barb, there's never a dull moment with animals around. :)

Julie, we both have our work cut out for us, don't we!

Sharon, when you mentioned finding the septic tank, I had to giggle too. As in, we found it because we misplaced it, *LOL

Renee, me too!

Tina T-P said...

Oops, I have some of those heirloom pole beans to send you - I guess I'd better get on the stick! T.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leigh,
Now I want to go out and buy some red barn paint and get busy. We need to repaint the barn plus some other things around the farm.

Good idea for your husband on the coal barn. It looks great!

It sounds like you both are very busy. I can relate to that part.

Good luck with the homestead.
Thanks for the visit and comment to my blog.
Have a great day.

Callie Brady said...

Wow! You have accomplished so much.

That is a great shade of red. I would love to do some painting. I'm still waiting for the rain to stay away and the sun to stay out and dry thing out.

Great post!

LivingOurWay said...

Your list looks like ours. Something is always going on! Too funny about the chickens not liking the wet ground. We use a dorm sized fridge for our eggs. It is filled to the top right now though.

Leigh said...

Tina, sounds like you're as busy as we are, LOL. Would love those heirloom bean seeds.

Pam, thank you for the return visit! I really like your blog and will be back regularly.

Callie, it's just good old barn paint from Lowes. Not much color selection, but great coverage. The outbuildings were all red before, so I just used the same.

LivingOurWay, chickens are a hoot aren't they? Good idea about the dorm fridge. Do you freeze any of your eggs?

Robin said...

Lots of nice things going on over there. I wonder if the rooster was drooped off. I have heard of city people who can't have roosters driving then to the country and abandoning them.

As for your septic...hehe...we have a general idea but are not sure where the whole thing is. LOL. Yeah, the joys of old houses.

So far it looks like all of our trees that we planted last year made it. That is always a good feeling knowing that I didn't accidentally kill them or the weather or some rodents. :)