Walk with me as I take care of the winter morning barn chores…

Looking outside the ice covered window, I can see the glorious sun peaking up through the trees.  Looks like a beautiful morning!  A quick glance at the weather shows its a cold one.

Better head to the barn and check on the animals.

Time to suit up.  First the bibs, coat, balaclava, boots, and mittens.  Yes, mittens today, for sure.  Five minutes later, I am finally heading out the door.  The door knob turns a bit harder than usual.  A flood of fog simultaneously rushes into and out of the doorway as I open the door.

Our barn water line froze up somewhere in the ground between our house and the barn earlier this winter, so I head on over to the house spigot with two 5 gallon buckets.  Hey, it beats getting water from the bathroom tub like we had to do last winter!  Two buckets will be enough to top off the waters, as the animals should not have gone through too much water since yesterday’s evening chores.  The spigot turns hard.  Very hard.  Careful not to break it, I apply a bit more pressure.  Earlier this week, I had to use the hot air gun once to thaw it out, even though it is a frost-free spigot.  It begins to rotate!  Steaming hot ground water pours out, a good 40 degrees warm.  Both buckets get their turn under the spigot, making plenty of cracking sounds as they disagree with the extreme and sudden change of temperature.  While I wait for them to fill, the sun gleams through the smoke coming from our chimney.  Our house exterior covered in snow and ice.  Winter beauty?

The buckets are full and I head off to the barn.  The ground moans and complains under my boots.  Absolute stillness in the air makes every crunching step sound that much louder.  You know it is cold when you breath in and your nose starts to freeze shut.  The warm moist air from your breath rises from your mouth and condensates on your eyelashes, making the involuntary action of blinking voluntary, a fight to prevent your upper and lower lashes from freezing together.

I check on the chickens and rabbits in the barn. Chickens are good.  Rabbits get their food topped off.  Their waters are frozen solid, no surprise there.  A few whacks against the floor breaks all of the ice free from the crock so I can refill them with fresh liquid water.  All good on the water and feed front now!

The goats are enjoying some hay in the comfort of the barn, non to eager to step foot outside.  That barn window I installed this fall gives them plenty of light to soak in.  The compost on the floor is starting to amass.  This is a good thing for the goats (not so much for me this coming Spring).  As it sits on the floor and decays, it generates heat to keep the goats a little warmer through the winter.  We also apply generous amounts of straw, it almost looks cozy, if only they didn’t have that bad habit of always soiling their bed!

Only the cattle and ducks left to tend to.  I’m still warm.  Hope you are hanging in there.  There is sure to be some coffee, tea, or hot cocoa in the house once the chores are complete.

Looks like their water is frozen to0 🙁

Lets fix that with the ice chisel and top it off for them…  Here comes Yavanna the yak for some treats.  She looks like a natural in this cold, she’s even sporting a frosty white beard (I probably am by now too).

“I’m ready for my treats!”  Who could say no to those big eyes!

I toss a bale in their feeder and give them each some grain.

Last but not least, we better check on the ducks before heading in.

Like the yak, the cold doesn’t seem to phase them.  After all, is it ever to cold outside for a duck bath??

If I have extra water, here is where I like to run to the sledding hill and toss the extra out.  Would be a shame to let that water go to waste.  Worse still would be letting it sit in the bucket and allow it to freeze solid, leading to another cracked and useless bucket.

Time to run those buckets back to the house so they are ready for later, now it’s time to warm up!  Just watching those ducks in the water is making me cold!

-Jeremy

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We Have Kittens!

Looking for a kitten?  We may have the lap kitten or mouser you are looking for!  A few weeks ago, our momma cat had a cute batch of five blue-eyed kittens that will be ready to find new homes in a couple of weeks (end of August).

They are most definitely the friendliest batch we have had to date.  Our children give them plenty of attention!

Here is a what we currently have available:

 

#1 (Free) Black w/ white belly and paws.

#2 ($30) White w/ grey accents on face/ears/tail/paws.  Female.  Blue Eyes.  Ragdoll/Siamese/Farm mix.

#3 (Free) Ginger w/ white accents.  Blue Eyes.

#4 (Free) Ginger w/ white accents.  Blue Eyes. – RESERVED

#5 (Free) Grey w/ white accents. – RESERVED

 

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Mission: Move in Ready Bedroom

If you have been following our blog, you may know we are on a mission to finish our “master” bedroom and move in by the end of the day this Sunday. If all goes well, the room will be fully complete with the exception of new windows and window trim.  To get there, lets take a look at what is complete and what is yet to be completed.

I finished the last few floor boards last week and put the last coat of drywall mud on Sunday evening.  I had some time Monday evening to sand the walls down.  Shelly immediately primed the walls and put on the first coat of paint today.

I cannot be more happy with the bedroom floor and am looking forward to seeing more floors like this throughout the house!

Now, what is left? A lot.  One more coat of paint to go.  We will be ordering windows and picking up trim later this week.  Once the wood is on-site, I need to construct two door frames.  We will also have to construct the wood trim from scratch and attempt to create something that goes with the early 1900’s style we are going for.  This will include wider baseboard trim, crown molding, and possibly some picture railing.  We also need to cut down and refinish two antique doors, one for the main bedroom entrance and one for the closet.  The doors will need to be poly’ed and the trim painted white.

Our bedroom trim will be a test run for the rest of the house, so if we can master the look we are going for here, the rest should be a bit easier when we get to it.

Looking for a kitten?  How about four 🙂  We ended up with two white ones that look just like their father, along with an orange and dark grey.  The kids have been enjoying them!  But seriously, if you want one, let us know on Facebook!

Okay, back to the house… While the bedroom walls dried over the weekend, I had some time to work on the basement stairway.  We are attempting to maximize all the space we have.  As the stairway was already pretty tight, I had to measure and re-measure several times to reassure myself there would be enough space to move a fridge or freezer up or down the stairway.

This area became even more of a challenge due to the way the concrete had to be poured (hard to explain, but trust me).  After having a year to figure out what we wanted to do here, I think we found a design that utilizes the space efficiently.  We will end up turning that space to the right into a built-in book shelf or storage for weights (fitness), we haven’t quite decided yet.  That is one of the advantages to living in a house as you remodel, you can figure out what works as you go.  At least the frame of it is in place and ready to go.

To give you an idea of how far this portion of the house has come, here it is about a year ago after we spray-foamed the basement (but before concrete):

Yes, that is a dirt (rather, clay and sand) floor with a pile of trash and broken plaster strewn about.  Those are also some one-of-a-kind steps I will not miss!

Besides projects and kittens, we started our second run of chicken eggs, our last for this year.  This time, we are going for a slightly larger batch.  A little over a week before hatching starts!

Wait, are those dinosaur eggs in the corners?  Okay, it nearly worked on the kids 🙂  My brother sent four goose eggs home with me after our last visit to their homestead (thanks bro!).  I never really planned or thought about raising geese, but we had the room, so why not?  If we don’t like them, we can always eat them..

-Jeremy

 

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Farm Babies

It is that time of the year again, spring is in the air, okay, not really.  It is actually snowing out right now, yeah, but it will be here soon, right?!

We are starting to see some signs of spring in the form of farm babies.  Here is a quick rundown of the new life on our farm so far, with more to come!

Our momma rabbit had her first litter of kits for the year!  They are about three weeks old and are getting a nice thick coat of white fluffy fur.

Our cat Maggie just had a litter of four healthy kittens (two of them look like their father!).  These little kittens will be available for adoption later this spring.

Bella the goat is getting closer, but still no babies 🙁  Crossing our fingers it will be soon!

Next batch of baby chicks are in the incubator….

Our ducklings have been introduced to our first batch of chicks in the barn and seem to be thriving!

The chicks and ducks seem to have adjusted quickly together, as you can see!

-Jeremy

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Glorious Light!

After about a week of boarded over windows and only one light (and several lamps) in our living/dining/kitchen, we finally have some light.  We were able to get four of our restored (though dusty from sitting in storage) antique lights up.  Windows will still be greatly welcome, but this is a start!

Here are our kitchen lights.  My brother and his wife parted with these before moving to Colorado Springs.  They will be a great addition to our home!

Here is our dining room chandelier.  I have truly missed this piece after moving from our last house.  Getting this up brings some semblance of normalcy to our house.  This one was found on eBay.

This is our living room light.  This piece also came with us from our last home.  Another eBay find.

Besides lights, we also got four of our rooms spray foamed.  We are having all the walls foamed to 5-5.5 inches thick.  We are lining the walls with this foil to manage loss of radiant heat.  We are going to go with 5’2″ tall windows, the original size windows our house would have had in the early 1900’s.  Those two windows will eventually look into our future porch.

Our bedroom was also on the list to get foamed this round.  This wall will be getting two 30″ wide windows to allow plenty of light in.  Now that the insulation is complete, we can rock and mud this room and hopefully be moved back in in around two weeks.

Our bathroom and mudroom also received some sprayfoam love.  The house is already feeling less drafty!  If you ever have a chance to re-insulate your house, don’t even consider fiberglass, go sprayfoam.  You won’t regret it!!

Besides construction, the typical house and farm routines continue on.  Next batch of strawberry Kombucha bottled and in secondary fermentation…  Yummy!

And couldn’t resist this one of the cats!  We temporarily stacked the old straw insulation from the house on the deck.  While we consider it a mess, the cats have claimed our mess as their throne.  We’ll let them enjoy it for a few days until we have time to clean it up.  If you want some 100 year old straw insulation, it’s yours for the taking 😛

“No, you go first!”

-Jeremy

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Living in a house while remodeling = organized chaos

Demolition, reconstruction, a mouse (R.I.P.), incubating eggs, plenty of ice, drafty walls, moldy bathroom walls, a lost guinea hen, and a surge milker all pretty much sum up the happenings at our home!   Orderly-disorder. Whew!  Thankfully, the weather has cooperated recently giving way to much milder weather.  Both the kids and animals have been enjoying the outdoors (yes, our cat likes sledding!).  Shelly and I on the other hand, well, we’ve been inside..

Parts came in for our goat milker!  I will be putting together this system in a dual configuration.  So theoretically, I will be able to milk two goats at a time.  Still need to order a few more parts, but it is a start.

In addition to the milker, we also started our first batch of eggs in an egg incubator.  We are sitting at about the halfway point today, so here’s hoping to baby chicks in not too long!

Much of the work recently has been taking place in the house.  The previous owners had some serious mice issues, which we have mostly eliminated.  Many of the issues from the mice are becoming very evident as we continue demolition.  For example, here is another reason we are gutting down to the studs (as if we didn’t have enough reasons before 🙂  The mice literally chewed through the electrical, right down to the copper.  It is amazing that the house is still standing and didn’t burn down years ago from an electrical fire!  Scary stuff!

We have pulled out all of the bad electrical, needless to say.  We have been gutting walls for the last few weeks, which has left the house fairly drafty.  Demolition of our bedroom and the main rooms of our house is complete, we are finally onto the construction phase!!  As I type this, four of the rooms in our house are getting spray foam insulation put in!  Two more bedrooms will need to be gutted in about a month, but we need to get the other portions of the house in order before we start another mess.  That give us a month to enjoy relative order and cleanliness, note “relative”.

This last weekend, my dad came over and helped frame in several windows.  This was a much appreciated surprise.  Bedroom and living room windows are now ready for window installation (once they come in).

Goodbye sunlight.  We will miss you, if only for a few weeks!  Nothing like a window or two less to force you to get some lights wired in.  In the meantime, the kids get to sit down in the windowless dining room (a.k.a. the bat cave, sans bats) to complete their school work.  The kids don’t seem to mind.  Actually, it is surprising, they generally don’t even seem to notice the changes going on around them!  The carefree life of a child!  For me however, the inconvenience is a good motivational factor.  I, therefore, expect much more progress in the next couple of weeks!

-Jeremy

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