Saturday, November 26, 2011

Casa el Chicks

The chicks have a new home! We moved them today from the basement crate they have called home to a much bigger real Coop!


They have been trying to roost on their water, on their food, and on each other. It was time to give them big chicken accommodations. We moved this coop into the barn to protect it from wind and put bales of hay around the bottom on the outside to keep the air underneath warmer. We put some foam on the floor and hay on top, hung up their heat lamps, and Boom! Brand new awesome chick casa.

And they are getting HUGE!

                  Chicks!

               Chick-agers

           Little Dinosaurs


We also had a lovely Yurt-giving. We had eight guests to the yurt and had a feast and a wonderful thankful gathering! Thanks for coming everyone!

The picture is blurry.... but a good time was had by all and it is always such fun to have so much energy in the Yurt.

Hope you all had a wonderful day as well!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Curious Thing

Ok, I'm done being upset about my wood purchase and thanks for humoring me, everyone.  I've chopped up most of the wood into smaller chunks, as recommended by the Eager Gridless Beavers.  The increase in surface area will help the wood cure more quickly.  There are some logs drier than others, so we've been pulling those out the get a good fire going, which takes almost no time thanks to Christy's skilled technique.

We each decided that we would rather wake up cold than set alarms throughout the night to feed the wood stove.  I've gotten into the habit of tucking the next day's clothes into the foot of the bed before going to sleep at night so they're nice and warm when I need to put them on.  It's amazing how cold denim can get!  That, and preparing the coffee pot ahead of time so that all it needs is the push of a button, has made our mornings run smoothly, if not comfortably.

Today, though, a record was broken.  At 6:30, when I woke up, the temperature was 26 degrees (-3C) (269.6K) .  Inside.  After my coffee was a ready I grabbed a mug from the sink and two more cups and a plate came along, frozen solid to it.  The cat's water dish had turned into a brick of ice.  In addition, the 100 watt bulb warming all of our external pipes which I built an insulated closet around, blew out.  The pipes we frozen solid.

Now these are all the standard outcomes you would expect.  What I found interesting, however, was my computer's * reaction.  The mouse needs a much more insistent click to get the point across (think both hands, while standing up), the entire computer shut down at the asterisk in the previous sentence, and while itunes worked fine, safari refused to do anything at all until it reached 52 degrees.  Is this going to have any long term affects on my poor computer?  I'm looking at you, Intergalactic Rockstar Climate Scientist.  And why would one program react differently than another?  Very strange.

It might be time to fill up the kerosene heater...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy The Cold

I would like to start off by saying that things could be worse.  Protesters whom we sympathize with have been sleeping in tents in NYC for months (and hopefully for months to come) in what is most likely colder conditions than this.  I respect and empathize with them and their efforts for a true democracy.

That being said, IT'S VERY COLD IN HERE!  It's starting to look like the two cords of wood we recently bought was not seasoned properly. We arrived home three hours ago to a 34 degree yurt, and after three hours, several logs, a few games of chess and several glasses of wine later we're up to 50 degrees.  We used to be able to get the yurt from 34 degrees to 70 degrees in 20 minutes.  The fire is burning slowly, sizzling and popping.

Since we started burning this latest stock we've suspected that it might not be seasoned.  The people that dropped it off were so friendly and seemingly trustworthy that we've been giving them the benefit of the doubt, thinking that the logs we've been pulling have been flukes... the few green pieces of an otherwise cured lot.  Our optimism is running out, though.

I was skeptical before it was even delivered.  We initially agreed on a price for two cords of seasoned doug fir.  Over a subsequent phone  call I was told that it was actually a mix of doug, hemlock and alder, for the same price.  We went with it because we were running low and had already talked to two people who jerked us around for two weeks or more without ever delivering, and mixed wood seemed better than no wood at all.  We assumed that it was at least seasoned.

Lesson learned.

Teagan has something to say about it as well.  Teagan?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cute Chicks

I thought it might get us some more hits.  I'll take 'em where I can get 'em.



Look at these little chickens!  They've tripled in size already and are eating and drinking so much that we have to top them up three times a day.  In a week or so we'll have to split them up into two pens.  They're living in the basement of the main house here at the farm, with two heat lamps keeping them cozy.  If only we could be so lucky...



Here you can see both of the roosters, which have red marks on their heads.  We only ordered one, but I imagine they throw in an extra with every order.  There are 30 chicks total, and we plan on selling at least 10 when they start laying.  That should cover the expense of the chicks we keep and all the feed in the interim, and hopefully someone will take one of the roosters.  

Christy wondered out loud how they sexed the chicks so soon after hatching, to which I responded "I don't know, I've never sexed a chick before."  Time will tell if I ever live that one down.



In non-poultry news, the shop is really close to being wired.  Most of the inside work is done, waiting for an L&I inspection.  Once that's checked off we can finally start insulating and turning the inside into a real, functioning shop.  We're really chomping at the bit to get things organized.  Before we can actually plug something into an outlet or turn on a light, though, a 20 ft ditch has to be dug from the vault to the shop.  I started yesterday, in the rain, but may need to call our neighbor to finish it with his back hoe, because it's going through some thick roots of the tree we felled a few months ago.  The goal is to have everything dug, wired and covered back up in the next week and a half.  These things have a way of  s t r e t c h i n g  themselves out, though....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Of Hearth and Home

Tell us, what temperature do you keep your dwelling at?  What's your comfort range?

The other day we woke up to a 34 degree yurt.  Right now, after dinner and a nice wood stove fire, it's a toasty 71 degrees.  It's quite the up-and-down dance, balancing wood fires and the electric blanket, and not heating all day while we're away.  We sleep with headbands over our ears, and can see our breath in the morning, but more often than not go to sleep very warm.  How do you balance things?  What's your heat source?  If it's a wood stove, what do you do to get the most out of your fire at bed time?

We've really been getting to know our little wood stove lately, and have gotten pretty good at getting a fire started quickly and keeping it going.  When we get back from a day of work at Mellish, it's only about 20 minutes until it's warm enough to take a jacket off.  That 20 minutes is generally well spent with a glass of bourbon on the front porch...



While the reflective insulation in the yurt does a pretty good job of keeping in the heat, the walls are still cold to the touch.  That, coupled with the fact that there are a few spots in corners and door frames where you can stick your finger through the wall, led us to start hanging up various rugs and blankets.  It's made a noticeable difference, although it has kicked us up to a whole new level of bohemianism.



To further insure our (and our cats') warmth and comfort in the coming months, we bought two cords of seasoned fire wood today.  Christy thinks we'll use it all this winter, but I'm a little more optimistic.  I'm thinking we'll use a little more than half of it.  Perhaps we should start taking bets?  It's mostly hemlock, with a good amount of fir and a bit of alder.  We should have gotten on this a month ago, when prices were lower, but never got around to it.  It was dropped off this morning by three burly lumberjack dudes.  We invited them to stay for coffee, and we all somehow ended up talking about the Clinton boom years, the gold standard and how America is viewed around the world for only stepping into foreign wars that involve oil producing nations.  It was... an unexpected turn of events.  We've spent most of the rest of the day stacking the wood at a leisurely pace, with a minimal amount of help from Teagan:



Coming soon: The shop gets wired!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Whoot Whoot!


Here it is ! The Latest and Greatest installment of the Shop!  We are set to move to working indoors!

We have been experimenting with different types of trim. We have metal corners and a rippled metal trim at the tops of the eve sides and the most experimental... the door trim.  We took metal drip edging and bent it into a flat-ish shape and used cooper screws. It looks pretty cool. John says the jury is still out, but I really like it.  It has a hammered distressed look that contrasts nicely with the crisp clean lines of the cedar siding and galvanized front.  We also have been playing with the router ( thanks Allen!) and making fancy trim for the windows. Not pictured since everything we have made is pretty wonky.

We managed to get all of the outside protected before the cold wet weather arrived. It has been a lovely dry fall with sunny cool days but cold nights. Colder than usual due to the clear skies. Because of this, the only thing we did not manage to get done was sealing the cedar siding.  The nighttime temperatures are just too low to seal it and have the finish penetrate enough to not leave a sticky residue. That is okay though. It will be just fine until spring.

The next step is getting power run from the temporary power pole to the shop. This is proving to be a bit more complicated since the shop is going to serve as the power hub to the house. The solar panels run  DC  to the shop where it meets an inverter to turn it to AC.  I will tell you more, alot more I am sure, when I feel like I have any idea what I am talking about. Right now? Barely.  I do know that we want to set all of that up in one swoop, so we have been talking with electricians familiar with solar power and getting quotes.  Taking time to get it right is good but it does mean we are in a holding pattern again. We can't move forward with insulating  and finishing the inside of the shop until we have an electrical inspection.  That means we are spending time planning the flow of the shop and preparing to build organizing shelves and tool tables.  I am seriously chomping at the bit to make it into an actual shop.... where the tools are off the floor and I know where they are. Ohhhh... dream of the day.  I was thinking today about how excited we were just to have a level foundation for cutting!

We also got a new tool..... A WELDER! It is not set up yet, but after the first project of making a cart for it, we are going to build a wood storage rack on the back of the shop.  We will fill you in with pictures after it's inaugural bead.

Some lovely rose bushes found their way to our property this week as well. The parents of a friend of ours moved into a new house with lots of rose bushes they did not want and so we went and dug them up and transplanted them at Mellish.  They are seriously lovely, more like little trees than bushes, and we gave them the best home the Internet could tell us to. Here's hoping they like it there!