Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Poultry Palace, Part Two: Varmint Precautions!

We knew that our chicken coop would need to be the Fort Knox of the chicken world.  We had read a lot of blogs and books to get some ideas about how to protect our chickens from varmints.  

I had been thinking we'd need to be wary of coyotes, and cougars, and bears.  Oh my!  And while those are all real threats living where we do, the bigger threats are skunks, foxes, and birds of prey.   Varmints!

Since our coop sits on the ground, we decided to run hardware cloth along the underside to keep any digging varmints from getting into the coop.  

Remember, it's July.  Not terribly hot, but the ground is terribly solid.  And, also remember that I Hate.  Hate.  LOATHE... the pick axe!

After Mr. Man and the kids helped me to dig down a bit (dratted pick axe again!) we stretched the cloth under the coop frame.  

So that they wouldn't form a breach in the high tech security system, the panels needed to be attached to one another. 

Somehow, this became my job...

I took the 3' wide panels of wire and "stitched" them together using wire and needle nose pliers.  I didn't like the lack of dexterity when I was using gloves, and so I did this bare handed.  After a couple hours, my fingertips were screaming!

I was certain that if I didn't get the panels snugged together and practically air tight that something would find the hole and eat my girls.   

 After the wire was secured, we piled all the dirt back on.  

The guys started piling before I was even fished "sewing" the pieces together!

 It was a big project, but one that we felt was essential. 

And, with everyone pitching in and doing their part (!), the job was a great accomplishment!

As you can see, the coop still had lots more work before we could get some hens in there.  
We'll get to that next...

The Poultry Palace, Part Three:  It.  Is.  Finished. 

And, if you missed Part One, you can catch up here:  Let It Begin!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We Give Thanks

We are grateful for all God has provided for us. 

We are grateful for our family's health and well being.

We are thankful for the animals:  the dog, rabbit, and chickens.   And all the critters and varmints that roam our acres!

We are thankful that our freezer is filled with fruits, veggies, fish, venison, and elk.  And probably more bacon than is healthy or advisable.

We are thankful for a warm home, hard work, and soul-drenching contentment.

But most of all, we are grateful for our Savior.  For the One True God who offers forgiveness, and salvation as a free gift. 

Do you know my Jesus?  If not, I'd love to introduce you.  In Him is found compassion, joy, and life everlasting.  And that is something to be thankful for.

Today, and every day, we praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Poultry Palace, Part One: Let it Begin!

One of the first major projects we wanted to tackle when we arrived at Four Fruitcake Farm was to build a chicken coop and get some laying hens.

We began the project in late July.  When the ground was at its driest.  And hardest.  And most pick axe unfriendly.  Good times...

Mr. Farmer Man and The Farm Boy started out by leveling the area we'd designated as the premier spot for the coop.  Using an axe, hose, and shovel, they dug through the natural grasses to the hard packed earth below.  It was a slow, laborious process. 

Seeing the long grasses with their even longer roots made me have more respect for those brave, strong pioneers who "busted sod" in order to forge a new way of life for generations to come.  In fact, there have been many things we've done on our homestead that make me very grateful for the technologies we have today that those who came before us did not have.  Even if that technology comes in the form of a pick axe.  Dreaded, nasty thing!!

After leveling the ground, Mr. Man began to mill the wood he'd felled in the forest.  He was able to use the logs to make enough 2x4s to frame out the coop walls.  

There was also some scrap lumber around the property when we bought it, so we used some of that in the project too.  Have you ever tried to nail into weather beaten, old, decrepit boards that seem to have petrified?  No?  You should try it some time.  It's a true test in patience.  And perseverance.  And attention.  Take your eye off that nail for a millisecond, and that hammer will hit your fingers.  Every.  Single.  Time.  True story!

Everybody "helped" in some way.  Brother helped hold up the framework.  Sister took photos.  The dog... well, he checked our work frequently.

And at the end of the day, the building was beginning to take shape.  We had a building with wood that Husband had retrieved from the forest, milled, and hammered together into the frame.  We had a door and window that were given to us free of charge.  And we had sore muscles.  Oh, boy!  Did we have sore muscles! 

Coming up next:  The Poultry Palace, Part Two:  Varmint Precautions

P.S... Please do not gag at my choice of work clothing.  While they don't fit well any longer (hello, Clean eating!) and are so unshapely and lack any style whatsoever, these have been the clothes I've worn for any major house project for the last 10 years.  They have paint from two different South Carolina houses (babies' rooms!), cement from a Florida house, and they're just nostalgic.  Okay?  'Nuf said...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Catching Up

 As I type, it is blowing snow outside.  However, I am cozy in our home warmed by a fireplace stocked with wood my husband felled and chopped, and that was stacked by the Farm Kids.  The elk roast, harvested by said husband, and complimented by root veggies from several friends' gardens, smells delicious.  I'm sure it will taste divine.

There is just something about being able to enjoy the fruits of your labors.  There is a soul-drenching contentment in working hard and enjoying all that God has graciously provided. 
In our short time homesteading, it didn't take long to learn a few things:  The work is hard.  It is usually unending.  Just when you think you've finished projects or chores, something else pops up.  
The work is hard.  Much harder and more time consuming than I'd expected.    
But the rewards are limitless.
And my soul is drenched in contentment and my heart is happy.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Now that the weather has turned cold, I find that, while the chores have not slowed down, I am spending more time indoors.  That's good news for you!  I will have time to get to all the posts and pictures and updates for this blog I've been planning to share for the last five months!

So, hold on to your cowboy hats.  Or your snow hats.
We're gonna get caught up, you and me!