Attic Wood Flooring, Complete! (and a Lego tangential)

When we started work on our attic this last summer, we made the decision to pull all of the wood flooring planks out.  But, rather than just throw them out or use them for firewood, we opted to save them for restoration and re-installation. The floor was badly in need of a solid sub-floor, so there was no question that they had to go, if only temporarily.  After a few months of hard work, I just put the last coat of finish on the wood flooring in the attic!  Refer to this post for the beginning stages of flooring work!

Lets take the tour..

Here is the “before” picture of the attic stairway.

No…. Wait a minute…  That was an in-progress photo.  There, we actually had solid new steps and a window.   Ah, this is more like it!  Creepy with bits of green outdoor carpet thrown in:

Here is a current view of our attic stairs!  While we are staining none of our flooring, but opting to leave them their natural color, we did stain the pine construction grade lumber we used for our stairs.  Turned out to be an excellent match!

Here is a view of our future school room, well, part of it anyway.

Here’s the landing at the bottom of the stairs.  This flooring came from the neighbors old barn hayloft!

How about a proper floor in our small closet that will hold the central vacuum parts while not in use.

Check!  We have just the perfect reclaimed flooring for that!

Thinking about living in a house while you remodel it?  While many shy away from this (for good reason), it does fit our lifestyle well, even if it means using spare 2x4s to block off a freshly poly’ed floor, while still maintaining access to my the childrens Legos.

With four children, remodeling a house off-site would be unfair to them.  They would miss out on time with their father and I would miss out on, the dreaded Lego organization day(s)..

Piles of foot-piercing colorful blocks…  Literally, piles.  We were finding that the kids had lost all interest in Lego building.  Sitting down with them, it was pretty easy to see why.  It was impossible to find any pieces you needed among piles.  OCD, high on polyurethane, or just plain a lover of mind numbing pain, I set about the task of helping the kids sort out the Legos… by color….  I did this one other time, when our children were younger.  Needless to say, they didn’t stay sorted as long as I had hoped!

After only about a day and a half, we had everything in its proper bin, labeled and all!

Another few hours later, they had sets built that I haven’t seen in years!!   Totally worth it!

Besides the distraction of Legos pulling me away from my many house projects, we also hosted my dysfunctional family for Christmas in our construction project we call our house. Again, totally worth it!

Warm(ish) Greetings from Minnesota!

-Jeremy

 

 

 

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Indian Summer, Attic Remodel Progress, and Homemade Shiplap

Surprise!  We have found ourselves in the middle of a good old-fashioned Indian summer.  After a couple of weeks of snow and cold weather, warmer temperatures have settled in for a bit.  Our snow has all melted away, except for a few patches desperately clinging to the shade of our old barn.  One couldn’t ask for a better time to cut firewood!  Cool, but not too cold.  No snow or foliage to get in the way.  But, most importantly, no mosquitoes!

If you have been following us for any length of time, you are probably well aware that, as part of our whole house remodel, we have been converting our unusable attic into a proper living space.

About four months ago, it looked like this:

After reinforcing the roof, installing a new subfloor, refinishing the floor, insulating, and adding dormers, it now looks like this (sorry for the bad picture, sometimes the phone camera is just so convenient):

Our goal is to complete this bedroom for two of our boys before Christmas.

I have put my new router table and old table saw to good use converting $18 USD sheets of BCX plywood into shiplap.  Each sheet of plywood equates to 64 linear feet of 6″ shiplap.  That comes in at around $0.31 USD per linear foot.  When shopping around, I found shiplap available for $0.62 USD per linear foot.  DIY lends to some big savings here!  So, as the project progresses, I expect to save upwards of $500 alone in shiplap.  That savings easily pays for the $160 USD router table I needed to purchase to get this project done.

As a bonus, I get a new tool out of the deal that I will use to fabricate our new kitchen cabinets next summer!

After cutting the plywood into strips (8 strips per 4’x8′ sheet of plywood), I run them through the router to create the groove on each side of the board for overlap.

To ensure even spacing during installation, I used a set of popsicle sticks.

Since we installed a metal roof on our house, spray foamed the interior, and desire to have an extremely energy efficient home, we also opted to install fiberglass insulation in addition to the sprayfoam.  We followed up with, to all those who have visited our homestead, our infamous foil barrier.  These simple additions should make the house much more comfortable year round and should also dampen the roof noise during a thunderstorm.

About halfway through producing the board for this bedroom, my 14 year old shop vacuum that I had attached to the router table decided to give up the ghost 🙁  Literal clouds of smoke billowed out of the vacuum!

Tack another $100 for a new shop vacuum and $50 for a dust cyclone and I still come out ahead!  Hopefully, the dust cyclone will improve the life of this next vacuum!

Until next time, greetings from our humble little homestead!

-Jeremy

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(Almost) Homemade Root Beer (and the inevitable tangents of a Homesteader)

Remember the 90s?  Those days when everyone consumed sugary, caffeinated pop (I think they call it “soda” outside of my mid-west bubble).  That was the era of my childhood.  Probably, for the best of everyone’s good health, consumption of pop is down for the twelfth straight year (in case you didn’t know).

Our family homestead rarely has pop on-site.  But, there is that occasional moment where I do get the desire to consume a good, cold old-fashioned root beer.  Being the homesteader that I am, I set out to make my own.  How hard could it be?  On a tangent, I once had a licorice craving and attempted to make some chocolate licorice at home.  The result was not all bad, it actually turned out with the same taste and texture as a Tootsie Roll.  Not the biggest fan, but hey, it could have been worse.

Back to my quest of making homemade root beer….  Quickly, I discovered that I did not have any of the plants needed to produce root beer on-site.  What a surprise!  I also learned that our climate in northern Minnesota was also a bit too cold to support those plants 🙁  Time to quit?  Ha, not for the average homesteader!!  So I discovered a little thing called root beer extract.  Not exactly homemade, but it’ll do…

The first time I followed the instructions on the bottle.  Gag!  Hmm, time for some rework.  As it goes with many homesteading activities, time to open up Libreoffice Calc and put together a spreadsheet.  So I started to make some notes with each batch I made over the next few months:

By batch 4, the root beer had a pretty decent flavor that satisfied that root beer craving!

Above are the ingredients, here are my quick and dirty instructions:

* Dissolve yeast in warm water for 3 minutes.

* Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

* Add extract and spices.

* Fill bottles (about 8-16oz bottles)

* Let sit in warm place for 3-7 days to build carbonation.  Make sure you keep an eye on the bottles.  They can exploded (mine never have).

(Links to the Funnels and Bottles, also great for kombucha)

Enjoy!

But, wait…….

That is not how it works on the homestead!!  Come on.  Kids, farm animals, winter…

Somewhere in there, we added some free chickens to the farm..

Some friends were slimming up their flock for winter and passed a few birds our way (they are still a bit shy).

Chickens aside..  When I started filling bottles, well, due to our short winter days, I overfilled the first two.  With the dark brown bottles and no sunlight, it was hard to estimate when the bottle was nearly full.

Time for a project before I fill the rest of the bottles!  I plan to build new kitchen cabinets next summer, but for this winter, we are living with what we have.  Earlier this year, I purchased under counter lighting for our future cabinets.  Well, why not install those lights quick now to help make getting through the dark winter that much easier?  That is just what I did!

(Link to the lights and remote)

That’s better!!

(here is a link to our stainless steel kid-proof cups (small size) (larger size))

Besides handling chickens and kitchen, Stephen and I also planted the garlic and a few hundred white oak acorns.

Now, to wait until next weekend to enjoy some homemade root beer!

-Jeremy

 

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Antique Ceiling Light Restoration

I am a sucker for most anything made in the 1800 and early 1900’s.  Impeccable craftsmanship.  Solid metal, solid wood.  Durable and time tested.  Simple, yet elegant.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many of the luxuries that modern technology brings, but there is something intriguing and spellbinding about the stories and history behind many of these antique pieces.

For sure, this holds true for our ceiling lights.  Each a small piece of history and beautiful piece of art in its own right.

Sadly, many of these pieces of history are tossed out and discarded like everything else in our materialistic and throw-away society.  Used for a time and then discarded, even though they are far from useless.

We have, over the years, slowly collected a set of ceiling lights for our home. Most can be had for little to no money, especially when comparing to prices of new lights in any big-box store.   Some were found on eBay, some at antique stores, some purchased through family, and others picked up along the roadside destined for the landfill.  All of them unique, and combined, a compilation of hundreds of years of history.  Each witnesses to different families and generations.  Each serving their owners faithfully through discussions over the dinner table, Christmas celebrations, and family deaths.  Like an old house, oh the stories these lights could tell if they could only talk!

Reclaimed wood, antique farm sinks, and old barn steel are all items that can fetch high prices lately as they become mainstream centerpieces in home decor.  They bring a warm charm to any new house.  But why are these older lights getting passed over?  My best guess is it is due to the efforts it takes to re-wire them and make them safe to install in our modern litigious and safety-policed society.  Although it takes a little work, but hardly more than it takes to pull off some old barn wood or move a heavy cast iron sink, I hope this post proves that these lights are not that difficult to safely restore, re-use, and enjoy  (if you just want to see pictures of some of our restored antique lights, scroll to the bottom!).

This post is not intended to be a tutorial, but a personal journal entry.  Don’t blame me if you rewire a lamp improperly and your house burns down!

Of all the lamps I have re-wired, this one was the most “difficult” as it had some soldering involved.  All of the other lights I have worked with only involved the use of a screwdriver and wire stripper.  Still, it was not that hard or time consuming to lend this lamp a new lease on life.

So, getting the tools together, I gathered up my:

I let the soldering iron warm up while I started the disassembly of the light.

I removed the ceramic bases.  They are threaded and just twist off, no tools required.

Each ceramic base has two wires coming out of them.  A “hot” and a “neutral”.  The center one is the hot wire, or 120VAC wire here in the US.  The wire to the side is the common or neutral wire.  These wires need to come out so I can replace them with new wire.  Most had bare wire exposed and were cut short when pulled from the house they were originally installed in.

So before starting to remove the wires, I had to bend the center contact inside the bulb socket with a flat screwdriver to expose the solder on the middle wire.  Once the new wires were installed, I bent this contact back into place.

I then used the soldering iron to heat the solder that held each of the two wires in place.  I used one hand to hold the socket and pull on the wire from the back side.  I used the other hand to hold the soldering iron and heat the solder.  Each wire pulled out easily once the solder was heated.

I then prepared the new wire by first “tinning” it.  This process involves touching the wire to the tip of the hot soldering iron.  I then held the solder to the wire.  When the wire heats up enough, it in turns heats up the solder and a bit of solder melts and absorbs into the wire.  My old shop tech in engineering school once lectured us students:  “You never touch the solder to the soldering iron!  You always touch the wire to the soldering iron and let the heat in the wire melt the solder.”

 

Once I was done preparing the wires, I inserted the tip of the wires into the holes where the old wires used to enter the socket.  I then reapplied the soldering iron to the inside of the socket while at the same time pressing the wire into the socket.  Once the wire slipped into the heated solder, I removed the soldering iron and let the solder firm up.

With both wires firmly soldered in place, I was left with this:

A quick note, most new wire comes with several ways to mark or identify the hot wire from the neutral wire.  Commonly, they are color coded.  Black=hot.  White=neutral.  Others print the wire specs and branding info on the insulation of one of the two wires.  As was my case, one of the wires was flat on one side while the other was completely round.  This becomes important to note as later in the process, these wires will need to be grouped and connected together.

I then installed the sockets back into the lamp.

Once they were all re-wired, I cut another piece of wire that will be used to connect the lamp to the supply wire in the ceiling.  Then, I applied the wire nuts, one to the “hot” wires and one to the neutral wires.  Once the nuts were on, I did the “pull-test”, ensuring I could not pull out any wires from the wire nut, thus ensuring I had a good and safe connection.

I like to top off the wire nuts with some electric tape to ensure they stay in place.

Easy enough, right?!  Now, the hard part…   I just need to complete the ceiling installation so I can install the lamp in place!

As promised, here are pictures of some of our restored antique house lights:

 

Main bathroom:

Kitchen:

Kitchen (above the sink):

Dining room:

Living room:

Bedroom:

Mud room:

-Jeremy

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Digging out a Basement of an Existing House (Spoiler: NOT FUN!)

Imagine yourself in cramped and dimly lit quarters.  You are hunched over, unable to stand up without hitting your head on the ceiling above.  Sweat is dripping down your face and sore back as you swing a pick ax in your wet hands.  You wipe your face with your hands to divert another drop (stream?) of salty sweat before it makes burning contact with your eyes.   Dust is everywhere.  Dust in your nostrils.  Dust sticking to your sweaty body.  Occasionally and more frequently than you care for, your pick ax suddenly stops as it makes impact with a solid rock. Eventually, once there is enough loose clay, dirt, and sand in front of you, you trade in the pick for a spade shovel.  Each scoop of the soil gets tossed into the ever growing pile a few feet away that marks the next phase of work.

Before you can begin swinging the pick ax again, you need to clear out that pile.  Putting the ax down and grabbing the spade shovel you start filling a line up of assorted 5-gallon buckets.  Those buckets at one time contained tractor hydraulic oil or bulk restaurant pickles.  Most of them have long since lost their plastic handles which would generally make handling them a little easier on the hands.  Instead, only the metal wire handle is left.  It takes you no time at all to fill up those buckets, barely putting a dent into the pile of loose soil you have amassed. Now, its time to drop the shovel, grab a full bucket in each hand.  “Bend at the knees, lift with ease,” except the bending doesn’t stop until you get to the steps, for fear your head will again make contact with that cursed ceiling.  You make your way over to the flight of stairs.  Stairs?  If you want to call them that, poorly maintained steps, some missing due to dry-rot and replaced with cinderblocks.    Calf muscles and knees strain as you cautiously take each creaking step upwards, always thinking about how terrible it would feel if the step below you gave out, and hoping that remains only a thought, never to become reality.

Once up, you head outside to the somewhat refreshing and cool winter air.  Refreshing for a while anyways, until that sweat starts to cool and leaves you with a chill.  You now gather some more strength to unload the two buckets into a wheelbarrow.  After another two trips down and up, the wheelbarrow is full.  Six bucket to one wheelbarrow.  You are now tasked with the chore of maneuvering the wheelbarrow across the ice and snow, about 100 yards away where you can unload the warm soil onto the frozen, snow covered ground.  Whoa, keep that ‘barrow upright or there’ll be more work, or a wheelbarrow in the abdomen or wheelbarrow leg in the shin bone.

You think you are done?  Not quite.  Only about another 100 or so rounds left to go, maybe, but I lost count 20 buckets ago.  Back to the pick ax.

This is what my first winter at our house looked like…

This is where we started from..

This was what my life consisted of nearly every weekend and many evenings through that winter.  Crazy? Probably!  Would I do it all over again?  Absolutely NOT!  Am I happy it is done?  Most certainly!  This is the cost of failing to look over a house from bottom to top before purchasing it, and being too stubborn to drop an idea, no matter how crazy it may be.  Dare I say, this was my stupid tax?  Well then, I should be paid in full.

From a bunch of men from our Church stopping by to surprise us one Saturday….

to putting a bounty on each bucket of 25 (eventually growing to 50) cents in hopes to entice the older children to help carry up a few loads, we eventually we got the basement dug out, foundation reinforced and concrete poured, and most of the walls down there framed up.  We turned a dingy dirt floor crawl space with a 4-5 feet clearance, depending on where you stood, into a proper usable basement with a concrete floor and seven foot clearance.  With that in mind, you can see why me and my wife are collectively breathing a huge sigh of relief going into this winter.

I will have my time with the shovel again in the future when we transform that pile of basement soil we have outside from a pile of weeds into an all-year fully self-sufficient greenhouse based on the earthship design.   But, for now, I am enjoying every project that does not involve a 5-gallon bucket, pick ax, and shovel!

So, with where we came from fresh in your mind, I’d like to transport you to where we are now.  Still a long ways off from complete, but also a long ways off from where we started!  As promised last week, here are some before and present pictures of the house and barn.  Before/afters, my favorite!!!

House, before.  Red…  Tasteful!?   Was it meant to match the barn???  Notice the white coming through the red?  Yeah, that is not your imagination..

House, present.  Only trim, fascia, and a porch left to go.

Barn, before.  Anyone have a bulldozer? Giant bonfire maybe?

Barn, present.  A work in progress, but now moving forward into usefulness from decay.

-Jeremy

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Attic Flooring

I love before/in-progress/after pictures!  There is just something about seeing where a project started and where it has gone that really makes one appreciate the effort and thought that went into the project.  It is always fun to see something that is so disgusting and trashed turn into a surprising gem, that was always there, just hidden and out of sight.

Well, I think our attic floor may finally be reaching that “non-trashed” point, but I will be honest, I had many, many doubts along the way.

Here is a “before” shot of the floor.  If you look close, you may be able to see the loose boards and extreme spacing between each board.  There were many spots that were just completely missing boards altogether (not in the picture of course).

The plan was to remove the old floor boards for refinishing outdoors (in fresh air), lay down subflooring, then re-install the flooring on top of the new subflooring.  This would eliminate the holes, loose boards, gaps, and would just plain solidify everything.

After pulling up the first few boards, I was about ready to cry.  Maybe I could leave them on and just throw the subflooring over it?  We could then find flooring to install on craigslist or something…

I couldn’t give up that easy, but Lord knows I wanted to!  Well, a few boards into it, I started to discover the trick to pulling the boards off in a somewhat efficient manner.  This was tricky, considering the boards were fairly brittle, as they are nearing 100 years of age.  In addition, they have been in an unfinished attic, enduring temperature extremes of over 100 degrees F in the summer to well below 0 degrees F in the winter.  I will admit, some of the boards still split on occasion, but between my hammer,three pry-bars, and a 2×4, I was able to prevent it for the most part.

The moment I laid down the last bit of subflooring was a joyous occasion.  Finally, our attic had a solid floor!  No longer did we have to walk with caution over each hole or loose board.

Myself and the kids then went to the project of laying floor underlayment in preparation for the wood flooring.

Once the subflooring and underlayment was in place, my attention turned to the flooring that I had moved to the garage. Again, we were left unable to park our vehicles in the garage.  The goal was to completely strip them down, cut them, and get them installed up stairs before the cooler fall temperatures set in. Thankfully, our summer temperatures were below average and our fall temps have made up for our cooler summer.  This evening was beautiful, somewhere in the mid 60’s!

Last weekend and most every evening this week, I have spent my time pulling out old staples and nails, scraping paint, and sanding the flooring.

I wasn’t alone.  Between my kids, our kitten, and the ducks, I had plenty of company.

 

Unfortunately, some of the boards did split while pulling them up or were just in bad shape to start with, so I had to square up and trim off the edges in some cases.  Those scraps will make good starter firewood this winter.

I think prior house tenants did all their painting up in the attic, as the boards required quite a bit of scraping to clean them up.  Thankfully, the boards were unfinished from the start, so I did not have to worry about stripping off any additional finishes.

And, here is the, not quite finished product, two coats of polyurethane left.  What the picture doesn’t show is the other room up there, that still needs wood filler and its first coat of poly.  Oh, well, I’ll get to it soon enough!

If it wasn’t for my mother’s eye, I probably would not have gone through the effort of saving this flooring.  But her annoying insistence that it would come out looking good planted that seed.  Thankfully, I listened to her.  Don’t you hate it when mom is right!

-Jeremy

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Two Years of Homesteading…

What a difference a year brings!  Last year, we lost most of our tomato crop to an early Fall frost.  This year, we have piles of them, despite the blighted fate of most tomatoes grown in this area. Last year, our attic was nearly unusable and wholly incapable of being winterized, let alone accessed.  As of last week, the attic is now spray-foamed and accessible!  The list could truly go on…

(Attic, before)

(Attic, in progress)

(Attic, in progress)

This month marks our two year anniversary on this homestead.  For us, the transition from our last house to this current house was extremely tough and an absolute test of our patience.  We are extremely grateful for every year-over-year improvement we get to witness and enact, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.  Many might look around at the current condition of our homestead and think we still have a ways to go.  We do, but we look at it and truly think about how far we have come.  With only two rooms left to demo in our house, the time of putting everything back together is drawing very, very near!

Out in the farmyard, with almost two years of raising a variety of farm animals, we have reached the point where managing these animals no longer feels foreign and scary.  The chores have just become part of our routine.

When we first started raising chickens, we would do a head count once or twice a day.  Now, I probably couldn’t tell you how many chickens we have if you asked.

Last year, I wondered if I would ever finish re-roofing our barn.  This summer, I wondered if I would ever finish re-roofing and adding dormers to our house.  They might have taken longer than planned to complete and they may have cost more than anticipated, but they got done.

Our grapevines produced a few handfuls of grapes this year.  We get the first taste of our own homegrown beef next month, as we send our first cow, Daisy, off to slaughter.  We learned that raising pigs is not for us. We learned that a goat in rut is stinky, yet hilarious to watch.

We have learned that our children thrive on a small farm and in a rural setting.

(Oldest boy, assembling a laying box for our birds out of scrap lumber)

Sometimes, a small house isn’t really that small after all.  We have learned that there is nothing more rewarding and humbling than opening up our farm and house to strangers and friends, no matter what condition our farmstead is currently in.  This is what God has called us to do.  As a reward, many of those strangers have since become dear friends and much appreciated neighbors.

(our little egg collector dragging along his favorite kitten while fetching eggs)

Over the last two years, the concept of doing life together with others has been trickling into the core of what we want to do here.  We are not meant to be independent and to go it alone, that is clear.  What a lonely, unproductive, and pitiful life that would be (we’ve been there).  In a nation and world so divided, we can choose to be different at a local level.  We can ignore that which we cannot change and work at what we can change.  My challenge to you as a reader, to myself, and to my family, is, over the next two years, how can we utilize that which has been entrusted to us to meet new people, form new bonds of friendship, to bless a stranger, and to bring true Hope to the hopeless.

It is said, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now.  Similarly, the best time to make a positive change in our local community is now.  Quit waiting on someone else to make a difference.  Quit voting for someone else to act and represent.

Don’t think we assume to have it all figured out.  We’ll be the first to admit we don’t, far from it!  We have stumbled too many times along this journey of ours and will do so many more times.  In fact, we have news of another curve ball coming our way, of which I am sure will inevitably lead to more stumbling and failure.

The only difference, this time, we aren’t going it alone.  God has supplied many people around us to help carry us when we are weak and to encourage us when we are feeling low.

Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy or fast.  No relationship worth keeping, is not hard fought for.  Our last two years have been a testament to that!  Our Foundation is strong and He will see us through!  Here’s to the next two years of homesteading!  Here is to the next two years of not sitting idly by, not playing into the politics, not mindlessly consuming media, but getting our hands and feet dirty and living life!

-Jeremy and Shelly

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The Harvest is On, and so is the Roof!

With the days getting shorter and lows are already in the 40’s.   I’m left thinking, where did summer go?  I know I am not alone.  This summer has been busy, both at home and at work.

Here’s a quick recap of the goings on here at our little farm.

A few weeks ago, our kitchen counters looked like this:

Now substitute the zucchinis above with canning jars, tomatoes, and apples.  That gives you a pretty good idea of what it looks like now!  Harvest season is here!

Last weekend we processed some of our ducks and one of our troublesome roosters.  We now have less drakes than hens and the hens no doubt would tell us thank you if they could talk.  We are currently at 9 hens and 2 drakes, versus 9 hens and 11 drakes…

This weekend involved a little less gore and a lot more cores.  Apples!

We have one mature tree that produced very well this year (and lots of little ones that will start producing in a couple of years).  With our family of six, we were able to completely pick it clean.   All of the scraps and bad apples were sent straightaway to the goats and chickens.   We turned the harvested apples into apple sauce using our food mill and the rest went through the peeler to be frozen for pies, crisps, and apfelpfannkuchen.  The weather this August has been amazing, so we did most of our apple processing outside on our stainless table.  Besides the occasional bee, this was a nice way to keep the stickiness outside of the house.

You can’t make apfelpfannkuchen without eggs.  Our last batch of chicks for the summer have begun to hatch this weekend.  It was a small late summer test batch.

Do you smell something?  We do.  That would be Bilbo our buck.  Last year he was a bit too young to share with us the joys of owning a male goat in the late summer.  This year he isn’t holding back.  Stinky?  Check.  Acting strange?  Check.  “Happy to see us”?  ..ahem..  Check.  The rut has begun.

Speaking of Bilbo.  Last week, our little buck was not feeling too well.  He must have ate something that didn’t sit well with his gut and he came down with bloat.  Bloat can be deadly in goats, so we immediately began treating him after we noticed his large stomach and loss of energy.  First came the oil syringe, some red cell, and then we followed up with a shot of Vitamin B.  After treating with oil and red cell for two days, he came though and is back to his normal self, sans the aforementioned effects of a buck entering rut.

We can’t forget about the house roofing project we have underway.  I cleared some branches that were hanging over our house so I could work on the roof with a little bit of headroom.  Stephen treated the goats to the freshly cut foliage.

With harvest season upon us, we did still manage to wrap up the house roof.  Fascia and soffit still in progress…

-Jeremy

 

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Roofing Progress, Gardens, and Automatic Barn Water

Roofing progress has been slowly progressing forward.  Slowly.  Due to various summer activities (county fair, work, CCP recertification, family events, and other commitments) and weather, the roof is still a work in progress.  The good news?  What little I have completed, has stood the test of the elements. We have been hit by several thunderstorms over the past few weeks.  No leaks in the new roofing!

The dormer roofing and chimney roofing took a while to figure out as this is my first non-barn roof that I have installed.  So far it is looking about how we had planned.  For reference, my partially completed 3D model in Sketchup (thanks to my cousin Brad for the software suggestion!).

Looks like another storm’s a brewin..

While my nerves were on edge as our roof was undergoing moisture testing, the ducks were thoroughly enjoying themselves as parts of our yard became over-saturated..

The rain and the hot sunny summer days have started to bring our gardens to life!  Flowers that we started indoors from seed are just starting to bloom.  The hard work and planning of spring is just starting to pay off!

This flower bed did not exist a mere 2 months ago!

Nor did this one!

Not only are the flowers in bloom, but the garden harvest has switched from strawberries, to everything else…  Over the last week or two, I would guess that nearly 80% of the food we have consumed has originated from our property.  Venison, pork, rabbit, potatoes, beans, zucchini, beets, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, peppers, herbs, and even a few early apples!

Another quick sneak peak at the latest house progress.

This side of the house has reminded me a lot of the barn.  The roof sagged about 2-3 inches in the middle.  This required a bit of work to remove and will result in a hopefully mostly squared up looking roof.

It has been a while since I have posted an update on here, so, I am going to cover all the bases!

We have laid down the rest of the cardboard we had stored up for the garden as part of our permiculture sheet-mulching technique.  As the rabbits produce more “fertilizer”, we will lay it over the cardboard, along with waste straw from the barn hayloft.  This method seems to so far be fairly effective at keeping the weeds at bay, while at the same time helping the ground retain moisture and receive nutrients.

Had enough yet?  There’s more…

I finally had some time this weekend to install the automatic water valves for the yak, goats, and cows.  At least through the summer months, this will save us lots of time as it eliminates the chore of filling up their waters!

Water aside, it sort of feels like spring again around the farm, in July.  We not only have a new litter of fluffy kittens, but also…

baby bunnies..

I think that about brings you up to date with the happenings on our little farm.

I’ll end the the same way I end every evening here.  This is our naughty hen that refuses to roost with the rest of the chickens.  Instead, she chooses to roost on the rabbit cages.  Maybe she thinks she is a bunny?  Maybe she dislikes our two juvenile roosters that are the cause of chaos before all the hens go in to roost every evening?  Either way, for the last few weeks, every night, I have to sneak up on her, grab her, and toss her back into the coop. Every night!  Without fail!  I hope someday she will learn!

-Jeremy

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More Dormer/Roof Progress and a Strawberry Bandit

It goes with little need to say, vacations come and go way too quickly! After spending most of my vacation week working on the house, I definitely did not reach the point I had hoped to reach.  But, then again, these are the first dormers I have ever built, and the roof took a bit longer to reinforce than I had planned.  That is me, trying not to beat myself up.  Before starting back up at work, I was able to get the side dormer framed up and most of the metal on the dormer roof.

After starting my first day back at work coming off vacation, my dad offered to stop out that evening and help seal up the roof a bit more to prepare for some storms that were predicted to come through Tuesday night (and they did).  I won’t turn down help!  So together, we finished the roofing on one dormer and started the roof on the other.

Fortunately, the roof endured the storm, with the help of only a few strategically placed buckets in the attic.  I think once I get the roofing done around the dormers and chimney, the rest should go pretty quickly.  Then and only then, will I once again enjoy the rain.

Last week was warm (by Minnesota standards) and this week looks like more of the same.  Until I purchase and install our next batch of house windows, our chickens have to do without any windows in their coop.  No windows, no natural light or cooling breeze.  So, taking a quick break from the roof last week, Stephen and I quickly assembled a screen door for the chicken coop, similar to the one we built for the duck coop.  We re-used the spring from the old door to retain the auto-close feature, a nice thing to have when children frequent the coop.

On a completely unrelated note, our children had entered the garden last night to pick a few strawberries to eat. How awesome is it to have fresh and healthy food growing at the reach of your children’s fingertips!

To their surprise, they were greeted by a furry strawberry bandit.  They went running out of the garden hollering that there was a raccoon in the strawberry patch “staring” at them.  The coon seemed unphased by the commotion, content to be located in strawberry heaven.  I ran out there, gun in hand, and took the rascal down.  Little did I know, his buddy was still hiding deeper in the patch, biding his time while we dealt with his comrade.

I was heading back to work on the roof to further prepare for the coming storm while Shelly grabbed a shovel to deal with the dead raccoon, when all of a sudden I heard a scream from the garden.  Shelly came running out of the strawberry patch, just as the kids had done moments earlier.  I again ran to the garden and dealt with the second coon.  This time I looked a little deeper to make sure there wasn’t a third.  All clear!

-Jeremy

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