Sunday, April 13, 2014

Home Grown Chicken Roost

Okay, it's not quite the Hilton, but my chickens love it!

I built this roost a couple years ago, and I am quite proud of the results!
I'm not a wood worker, or a carpenter. Just a chicken owner who did something right! I referenced Building Chicken Coops: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-224 for measurements. 
My chicken coop isn't very big. It is actually a re-purposed storage shed.  It's about 12 ft by 8 ft, with a completely wired in and roofed yard of about 8 by 8. Red tail hawks are prevalent in this area, and I'm sure they would love to add chicken to their diet.
Don't mind the holes in the back side of the shed, I raised two boys and a tom girl, they had bows, and that side of the shed faces away from the house...
I will eventually replace the ply wood, but for now I figure it offers some ventilation.
To make the roost you will need;

5 - 1 x 1 x 8
3 - 4 x 4 x 8
18 - 2" Nails
Planer
Hand saw

I took the planer and shaved off two edges of the 1 x 1s to give the birds a gentle curve to nestle on. I left these at full length because they fit well inside the coop.
The 1 x 1s are completely rounded on the top side, flat on the bottom.
I then marked where each 1 x 1 cut out would go, at 17" apart and notched them at an angle so the 1 x 1s would sit flat when the roost was laid against the wall. I couldn't tell you the angles, I am pretty sure I just got lucky in that everything fit and was level when it was done.

I put this together before I put it in the coop, but you can do it either way, I'm sure. 
I took two 1 x 1, and marked where the 2 x 4s needed to be placed, then nailed one in the top notch, the other at the bottom, then nailed the other three in place.
After I got it in the coop, I put nails at the foot of all three 4 x 4s, to keep it from sliding out. I didn't nail it down to the floor, so that I can move it when I need to clean up under it. It is not attached at the top.

Although at this time, I only have 7 birds, in the future when I decide to expand, I will have enough roost room for about 40 birds.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Of Beans and Garlic!

I discovered something yesterday.
A few weeks ago, I dried some turmeric on my leather trays, and it stained them. A couple weeks ago, I dried some garlic on the leather trays, and they still smelled like garlic. I didn't put two and two together, to come up with, if I put wet fruit on the leather trays, they would come out smelling like garlic, and tasting a bit like turmeric.
I imagine you guys are already ahead of me here. I wanted to make some fruit leather, so I did. It is really really good! Just a little garlicky... I figured it was a lesson learned, don't use the same leather trays for fruit as you do for garlic. I was cleaning them and thought to myself, I could put coconut oil on them to season them for the next time I want to use them. That's when I realized the stains were coming out from the turmeric, and it also took the garlic smell out! Yay for coconut oil!
Now I have three clean and shiny fruit leather trays, that don't smell like garlic!

I got this in the mail Tuesday!

I canned 15 pints and two quarts of pintos with bacon and onion, and two quarts of potatoes yesterday! I'm now out of pint jars, and still have a bunch of beans I want to do.
Two quarts of pintos, two of potatoes

 This is my apple scrap vinegar, I had to put it back into the container I had it in, because I need to get some plastic lids for the jars. When they come in, I'll be able to jar it up and it will be ready to use :)
 Dehydrating green onions
...
 Dehydrated fruits for Kevin. He's stationed in Afghanistan now, wont be home till August.
 My new toy!!!

Dried these last night, half eaten already. I have some fruit leather in the dehydrator now, hope it comes out better than the last :)

Drying chokecherry sauce

Rolled fruit leather
To the left is pear butter I made last year, and the right is rosehip 'jelly' that didn't quite jell. I've got two more trays of this going, it is very, very tasty! Bet it will be even better without the turmeric and garlic!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring!

I was going to write about my adventures in learning to can last fall, but I've got a surprise coming in a few days, and it will go right along with that.

I've decided, for the first time in a very long time, to plant a garden. Right now, it is nothing but dirt, horse poop, and some weeds. Oh, and a row of garlic that I'm hoping the rabbits will not be attracted to before I get it fenced. The garlic row is to the right in the picture...
 My chicken coop is at the top, and the pen to the top left is the pig pen (will hopefully have some pigs in it soon!)
Here is a close up of my garlic, from a few days ago, at the time I took the picture, there were only these two, now most of them are up, along about a ten foot row. Mimi from Desert Peach shared some of her crop with me, said it was wild garlic from up in Washington, off a reservation. Can't wait to see what it does!


On Thursday, I'm going to rent a tiller, and get this all tilled up, then we'll fence it with chicken wire. I have a HUGE population of rabbits here

If I didn't know better, I'd think I had a goose out there...
 
 My girls took a vacation, they've just gotten back into the swing of things in the last month. I was almost 3 months without my fresh eggs... although I did find an alternate supply :)

I think I might have been a little too anxious for spring; these are already getting their secondary leaves, I could be wading through zucchini vines before long. The tray on the left is all pickling cukes, the right tray is green zucchini, and yellow crookneck. The crookneck hasn't come up yet, not sure why.


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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fall Harvest

Have you ever harvested your own chokecherries? Or seen a wild elderberry tree, branches hung low with bunches of little powdery blue berries? Or fought your way through a wild rose bush thicket to get to the reddest, most plump rose hips? 
I had not, until last year, and oh, what I have been missing! 

Rather than retell the story, I will share what I already wrote! This is from another blog that I attempted to start last year. I didn't get much done on it, after the first few posts, I kind of ran out of steam. It was getting colder outside and we'd had about all the adventuring we were up for at the time :)

September 16, 2013
"A few weeks ago, my friend went out with her other half scouting for deer for her oldest son. She came back and told me that the chokecherries were almost ready to pick, that we should go check them in a couple of weeks or so. I agreed readily. I love going out into the mountains that surround our valley in the Great Basin, it is really gorgeous here. I’m actually kind of glad all anyone ever sees from I-80 is sage brush and dirt.
I have lived here for …well, a lot longer than I want to admit, to be honest, and I have never thought to look in these mountains for food! Why did I never think about the riches they offer!? I can’t answer that, other than to say I’m as complacent as most everyone else has become with the convenience of the grocery store. I am proud to say that this state of affairs is changing, and I’m learning how to live without all the creature comforts. I’m not sure what I’d do without my Kindle though…
Off we went, a couple of weeks later, buckets and bags in tow, to search out chokecherries. We found out that none of us truly knew what we were looking for, even though I’d Googled chokecherries the night before and kinda knew what they looked like. And she had thought she’d seen them before and declared them almost ready to harvest! We wandered up through one of the canyons on our four wheelers and found quite a few bushes with black berries on them, but we just weren’t sure what we were looking at. “Why are these berries so dry?”, “Guess we should have done this a couple of weeks ago”, “What are these berries?”, “Those are poison, #### told me so”. And so it went, until I saw a dangling group of dark berries that rang bells in my head and I said “THAT is a chokecherry tree!”
Yay! We found one! And then we found another, and another! We found so many, we got really picky about which ones we harvested!
We found out later, the first black berries we saw were service berries, edible, but the guy at the cooperative extension office had never heard of anyone that harvested them to eat. 
Elderberrys - beautiful

The ‘What are these berries?’ were elderberries; the ‘poison’ ones were (get this) rosehips. Who knew!? 

Juicing rosehips
And what are gooseberries? Yes, we found out what those are too. What a week we had! We gathered almost 5 gallons of chokecherries that first day, went back again for the elderberries and harvested about 2.5 gallons.
We went back later in the week and harvested more elderberries, and even more chokecherries. My daughter went with me on that trip, she climbed the trees to get to high bunches of elderberries, and we had my friends extendable pruner, were able to get another 2 gallons or so.


Gooseberries





I attempted to harvest goose berries but I did NOT have the right equipment! Those little buggers are painful! They should be called stickerberries, there are just as many sword-length stickers as there are berries! I was able to get some though, not sure what I’m going to do with them just yet. I already knew what currant berries were (not totally in a vacuum) and harvested some of those, but didn’t find many. I’ll probably throw them in with the rosehip jelly I’m going to make, and declare it jam. Sounds good!
Elderberry tree














That was my adventure, and I plan on having a lot more this year!
I'll share some of my at home adventures tomorrow; Canning!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Home Improvement!

Last year, DH decided to take a home improvement loan out of his 401K.
We've lived in this home for 16 years and have never done anything to it. I take the 5th on that point, cause I'll get myself in trouble if I start 'pointing' fingers.
It was in dire need of a paint job, a new roof, and a new furnace/AC.
When we bought our home, I insisted on a diesel furnace, he insisted on central air. We both got what we wanted, but something went wrong early on with the furnace; seems the little nozzle that sprays the diesel out to be ignited was not the right size, so every time it came on, it would burn way too hot, and eventually gutted the inside of the burner chamber (or whatever it was), till it just didn't work anymore. DH maintained all this time that if we'd 'just gone with propane' everything would have been fine. But, he doesn't pay the bills or deal with our debtors, and I flat our refuse to deal with a propane company. ANY propane company. And, the central air unit that he insisted on having, was woefully small for our over 2500 square foot interior, so it worked itself to death early on. For the past three or four years we've had a kerosene heater in the winter (which worked wonderfully, btw), and two window mount ac units in the summer (which didn't work so wonderfully). It was time for a change. Also, the double paned windows all along the front of our home had clouded up and looked horrible, not to mention that I couldn't see through them.
So, we got a new steel roof, pained the house, put windows across the front of the house, a new electric heater/AC, AND put in a wood stove! We still have to put up new rails around the porch. and frame the door... oh, I didn't mention, we put a new sliding glass door in!

I LOVE my wood stove!
The rest is great, but I really LOVE my wood stove!
The stove was a rodeo. We had to send parts back and forth a few times before we finally got it all together, but it all worked out. I would like to build a mantle behind it, but that is down the road a bit.

Tomorrow: Fall Harvest!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A ReIntroduction!

Wow, there is a lot to talk about!
So much has changed in my life! Not so much with my kids or my home, but with me!
It seems like I've been walking through my life with blinders on, accepting things as they come to me, never really working towards anything. Even looking back at college, I was there because it was fun! I figure, if it's fun, or tasty, or just something I want to do (and it doesn't harm or interfere with anyone else), then who cares if I do it or not? And what of tomorrow, I'll deal with it when it gets here.
I think the changes in my way of thinking started more than a year ago, when I discovered coconut oil.
You can't do research on coconut oil (which is absolutely amazing, by the way!) without learning a lot about healthy living.
We also started paying more attention to the future, as in retirement and/or preparing for catastrophe. I started with tins of freeze dried food, and back stocking things like toilet paper, and salt, buying cases of canned food, a couple of bug out bags, etc. I am still doing this, I think it's important to be prepared.
Then my neighbor was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. That really got the cogs turning.
I've always lived life with an attitude that I will live forever. I love that way of thinking! But it really isn't conducive to a long life. A tragic irony.  I still want to skid into the end of my life with bells on, but I can take some care to make sure it is as far in the future as I can make it! So my whole attitude has changed, towards what I put in and on my body, and those of my family. I started canning, and using essential oils, and coconut oil, of course. I also make my own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, chap stick, 'lotions', and I have a friend who makes bar soap (I found out I am sensitive to lye). I've been dehydrating for a long time, but have started to take it more seriously. We use a lot of fresh veggies, and home grown meat. I seldom buy meat from the store any more. I've even started seeds, going to have a garden again for the first time in ...well, a lot of years!



The pickling cucumbers have been coming up for a couple days now (the middle tray), the top tray is chives, tomatoes, collard greens, green onions, and jalapenos, they haven't come up yet. The other tray is zucchini and crook neck yellow squash, just peeking out this morning. 

I still have sheep, but not breeding Tunis anymore. I have my Tunis ram, and two ewes. 
 The dark one is a ram out of Gracie. We had to put her down this past fall because of a growth she had on her lower jaw. I was all set to take him and his brother to the butcher a couple months ago, when I realized he has his mother's wool. If I can find a home for the Tunis ram, I'll make this one my flock ram. There's Babs and her ewe lamb to the right (born Jan 27th). She had twins, one had tight tendons in his back hocks, so she decided he was tiger food. He is now a bottle baby (shown below). I have pretty much decided to keep the dark ram, Babs, her ewe lamb, and Sweety... I am actively looking for a home for the Tunis ram. He is full blooded Tunis, but can't be papered because of his three inch scurs.

This is Sweety, she is out of Jari's very first 4-H ewe that passed away year before last, when this one was a couple months old. Her lamb is hiding behind her shoulder. He was born day before yesterday, on March 4th. He has the tunis floppy ears :)

The bottle baby...
He's more Babs than his sister is, she's much darker, more 'Tunis' looking.

 This little guy, the newest one, has some kind of 'bubble' at the base of his ear. Not sure what it is yet, it's soft, pliable, like it has nothing but liquid in it. It doesn't hurt him, and he's healthy otherwise. He had it when he was born, right outta the chute :)

I have a whole list of things to tell everyone about, but I'll take it slow. 

Tomorrow: Home Improvement!

Re Deux?

I want to come back. It might be a long trip! I haven't been spinning, or knitting as much as I used to, and I don't have as many sheep as I used to. Just doesn't seem to be as much to talk about...
Its funny how you drift away from things, into other things, and the old things just don't seem to garner the attention they used to.
If I get back here tomorrow, or the next day to post, it will be to catch up. Hope someone will see it :)