Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken Coop Video

Seeing as it's been occupied and functioning for over a month now, I figured I would update the page detailing our chicken coop.  Here's the newly-added, guided tour:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trimming with John

We've now been in our house for about a month! It has been a lively month full of finish work and settling in, creating a system for things in our new home. Things like where to put the garbage and the books so that the house functions smoothly but nothing is in the way of the next project.  We are trying to strike a balance between still working on the place and living here and that requires putting things away but not too much.  We ran into an acquaintance yesterday who told us of an old Chinese proverb that says you should never be done building your house.  No problem there. The list of things we have still to do is slightly overwhelming, but that is why we are striking a balance between living here and working on it.

The first priority has been covering all the drywall edges around the windows and doors. It is amazing how much covering the drywall edges makes it look done. You may recall that we cut down a massive Doug fir and had it milled into 2 logs measuring 27 ft x 8 in x 10in for the two porches.  We were given all the scraps from that Doug fir along with the skookum logs.  We have been using those "scraps" for all of our window and door trim.  Once again a "labor of love". John took the reigns on most of it and I did the finish work. For John this meant sorting through a huge pile of lumber, all 27 feet long and with varying depth and varying degrees of bark still attached. Then he would cut out the best parts for each window, measure, cut , and usually have to taper the cuts because our windows are not perfectly plumb or square. Then he would plane and sand the wood. Given that some of these pieces are HUGE, this was a very time consuming task. I have to praise John on choosing extraordinary pieces of wood and placing them in the best spots. He was constantly aware of grain pattern and interesting details and the end result really shows. The windows are really lovely, using the natural edges and slopes of the wood.  He would install one window in its entirety and then I would follow behind doing the staining and sealing. We are doing a two stain finish, leaving the inside clear and doing the outer edges in a walnut stain on the windows and an "early American" ( more reddish brown)  stain on the doors. The taping took most of the time, but I am really happy with the end results. John put so much effort into making them perfect, I was a little scared to follow behind with the stain.

This window shows the most detail John was able to keep in wood. Most of them have some degree of this, but this window pushes it the furthest. It's really hard to capture it in a picture, but the bottom piece slopes as well.

We are still working on some of the others. The next big job is going to be getting the stairs on and I am stoked about that! They will be all live edge Doug fir and a true 2 inches.

Also... we have a guest room ready to go... complete with a cat. Who's gonna be first?!

If you come in June, the 36 strawberry plants we just put in will be throwing strawberries at us. Just sayin.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Death From Above

Chicken down.  I repeat, chicken down.  

We've known about the bald eagles nesting near our house, we see them regularly.  We know they're opportunistic predators, and are not at all opposed to a chicken now and then.  To the left here is a picture I snapped about a week ago.  They're everywhere!  The routine nature of their sighting has not made them any less impressive, though.  When you hear the shockingly loud woosh woosh woosh of their gigantic wings flapping above you, you have to stop whatever you're doing and just watch.  Their size is in itself an optical illusion.  You see this huge bird flying straight at a tree, only instead of smacking into it Wile E Coyote style, it glides dozens of feet over it, making it much higher and much bigger than you thought.  Every time this happens.

The protected run in front.  Beyond: the big open garden.
We built our chickens' run with this in mind;  it's long and narrow.  Since an eagle's wings are in the neighborhood of 8 feet from tip to tip, they won't swoop into a space too narrow for them to flap back up and out of.  Where we went wrong was in not keeping the girls inside their run.  We cut a hole in the fence between the run and the garden so that they could scratch around and do their little roto-tiller thing.  For the last couple of weeks they've done a great job of scratching up weeds and breaking up the top soil.  We worried about the eagles, but anytime the hens saw anything fly over them, a goose, a duck, a sea plane, they would run under the coop, or under a pallet we propped up for just such an occasional.  They did this so often it almost looked neurotic, and any concerns we had about their safety were assuaged.  


Well, I'm guessing you can figure out how where this story is going.  We and the chickens let our guards down, the eagles did what eagles do and we have one less chicken.  Christy found the carnage yesterday, buried the remaining half of one of our wyandottes and ushered the rest of the terrified flock back into the coop, where they've pretty much stayed since.  I woke up at 7 this morning and saw the predator in question perched atop a snag 15 feet from the coop, watching.  Note the beak.  That triggered lock down mode.  The cats are now imprisoned inside the house until further notice (and the inmates are already getting restless), and the chicken run received reinforcements in the form of a network of bungee chords stretched across it's top.  Everyone is safe, but I still find myself looking out the window and watching the horizon at regular intervals.  Christy has been talking about pulling out her air rifle and preparing "the most patriotic dinner ever", but some quick research showed that killing a bald eagle is punishable to the tune of $10,000 and jail time.  I suppose after nearly killing them all with DDT in the 60s, they deserve a chicken here and there, but I'll be damned if it's going to be ours ever again!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Plant Stand Repurposed as Dish Rack

It was a true "ah-ha" moment.  I think I might have actually said "ah-ha".  For weeks I had been thinking about dish racks, about a convenient way to store plates over a sink that's a little more than a drying rack, and a little less than a cabinet.  It was an idea floating in my head that was trying to take shape, but not quite getting there.  I knew I would have to build it from scratch, but couldn't figure out where to start.  It wasn't a priority, something on my foreseeable to-do list, but it was certainly in the back of my mind a few days ago when, cleaning out our airstream trailer, I came across Christy's mid century plant stand.


She's had this plant stand since I've known her, although I'm not sure I've ever seen a plant on it.  For a long time it served as place for her jewelry to hang.  It's attractive for sure, with those clean, geometric lines indicative of it's period, but we've never had a really good use for it.  For the record, I only know about "mid century modern" and it's "clean, geometric lines" because of the considerable schooling I've gleaned from Christy's encyclopedic furniture and design knowledge.  When I told her about the melding of images in my head, the plant stand and the dish rack I've been trying to talk about, she didn't hesitate in seconding the thought.  That's always a good sign.

Tonight, I embarked on what turned out to be the easiest repurposing project ever.  I flipped the plant stand over, attached it to the wall with some small hardware from the "etc" drawer in the shop, cut a piece of plywood to sit across the feet, drilled holes for the feet to sink into and put some dishes on it.  I don't even know if that counts as a project.  I do know that I'm stoked about it.

It's more interesting than a drying rack and more useful to us than a plant or jewelry stand.  It's just the right size to hold what I think is a totally reasonable amount of "on-hand" plate ware.  We have more plates, bowls and glasses, but we only need a few of each in daily rotation.  With a rack, there's no searching in cabinets, or sliding plates out from the bottom of precarious piles.  Whatever you need is right there in front of you, easy to see and quick to reach.  Also, it's a nice way to show off our eclectic mix of attractive plate ware.  Win, win, win, win, and using only materials on hand.  I think that's called synergy.  If only organizing were always this easy!