Sunday, October 18, 2015

October update

I seem to have slowed to monthly posts. There always seems to be too much else going on. So, stuff to update...

Well, the windows finally got installed. Very expensive, but the weather has tested them with strong winds and the curtains don't move at all. Hooray!

My car decided it had done enough after more than 227,000 miles and was replaced with a 2009 VW Passat. Not as nice as the Audi, but I had to find something that fit in my budget. As my son said, I'd be a hypocrite if I went back into debt.

The garden is almost finished. I'm still digging potatoes; not a great crop this year. Other than that, some kale and leeks, everything is out. I'm making a real effort at seed saving for the first time. I've got beans, broccoli and marigold.

My other big 2015 project was having the cattle shed at my parents' farm sided. All the windows were replaced as well. The old wood siding was deteriorating fast and I hate to see a good building fall to ruins. Someday I'll get the roof redone, but it's still solid.




It's getting cold at night. We've had our first frost. Very dry which helps the harvest, but I had to rinse off the solar panels. Too much dust. And that's about it for now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Alarums and Adventure!

Sitting peacefully in my house, I hear a loud bang and the fan stops. Everything on solar power is fine of course, but the grid power is gone. My neighbor and I go looking for the problem - it's a squirrel (very dead) on top of a transformer. Power is out only on our side of the street. Sadly, the computer is on solar so no excuse to stop working.

The other day a very strong wind from just the wrong direction closed the chicken pop door. When I went out to close it after dark I found chickens everywhere! Poor things locked out of their home at night. The first thing I did the next morning was add a latch to the door.

Another recent adventure: I was entering the chicken pen when Pippy slipped out the gate. They probably heard my shriek "Pippy! What are you doing?" in the next county. She only went a few steps before changing her mind. I stood back and swung the gate open and she scampered back inside. Phew!

Everything is bone dry and dusty. We have a chance of rain tomorrow, but less than a tenth of an inch is forecast and that's it for the next week. A long, slow drenching rain sounds heavenly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August update

Humor first: When I took my loaf out of the bread machine I found a small heavy lump instead of the normal bread. My first thought was 'oh no! the machine is broken!' but then I realized I had forgotten to add the yeast. :)


How is this for a time-lapse. The first picture is my small garden a month ago.

Same garden now:

I've just begun harvesting a few tomatoes and cucumbers.


But the beans are the big success this year:



I wish they stayed purple...so cool looking. 28 quarts and counting!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Going to work to rest?

I took pictures of my garden just in case the storm tonight is a doozy and it gets flattened again. But I'm not at my computer so won't be putting any in this post. I still have carrots and onions that are overrun with weeds, but will keep plugging away as I can. Peas, beans and potatoes are blooming. Yay!

My son took three hens out to his friend who is keeping chickens for the first time. They have an entire yard to explore and are settling in nicely. By the following afternoon they had produced six eggs, so no stress there.

Saturday I laid out the drip hoses and watered the big garden. I also had a load of laundry hung out so, naturally, it rained. With no chance mentioned in the forecast, we got 1.5". Since they've been predicting storms tonight for days it would be ironic if we didn't get anything.

I've noticed that I have much less tolerance for heat than I used to. Only low 80s and I can't deal with it. We're not even into the hot months yet.

I did get my first cherry tomato today. Even with the hail blemishes - yum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Aargh!

For the record: I really hate mosquitoes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Grand opening

Over the weekend I moved the chickens into the new coop.




Three more nest boxes and lots more floor space make it very nice. The most time consuming part of getting it ready was the insulation, but much easier to do it while empty. I'm going to move over the roosting bars from the old coop yet. Otherwise I'm happy with it.

The second night after the switch I had two hens who insisted on getting in their old digs so I let them in then carried them to join the others. Tonight there was just one stubborn hen who got the special treatment. All are healthy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

One day later...

It seems incredible that just one day after I took all those pictures I'd have a reason to take more but this is what I came home to:










The 1.5" of rain and winds we could have rolled with, but the hail - oh my.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fruit trees

This is the first year I have fruit on my trees and it's very exciting.

Peach Contender
Alderman Plum
Honeycrisp Apple
The Superior Plum is also producing, but looks identical to the Alderman. Next year two more plums should kick in and maybe another apple. The other peaches will probably be the year after that.

Garden shame

I've avoided posting partly because the state of my garden is sad: planted late and already struggling with weeds. But no more hiding! Blemishes and defects revealed.

The small garden doesn't look too bad except for the stunted sizes and weeds on the outer rows.

The big garden is in serious trouble. The carrots and peas are overrun with grass and germination rates are not impressive. The beans in the middle seem to be doing the best.

Shallots and onions are what I began with on weeding. With my back troubles, I can only do so much before having to stop...and it's not enough.

My mom's potatoes are easily twice as large and already blossoming.

Luckily the earthboxes are doing well. Of course, that's what they're designed for so it doesn't say anything for my gardening abilities!


Flowers

Because they're beautiful.

Mom's yellow peony 
I love ornamental kale
My first delphinium - Wow!

Finally hacked out most of the weeds
Hostas are some of my favorites

Sunday, May 10, 2015

New chicken coop

Saturday was very exciting as the shed I ordered for a new chicken coop arrived. The old one I built myself is really too small for the flock and this one will be plenty big. I have to make some changes before they start using it: insulation, nest boxes, roost and a pop door. They were all happy to be allowed back into that section of the pen again.




Today was not so pleasant with wind, thunder and rain. Thankfully we didn't get any of the tornadoes near us. One town farther south got hit very hard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

That time of year

I try to take a picture when the crab apple tree blossoms every year and today it is starting to get serious about it.


Plums are finishing.

Cherries are exploding in scent!

The wall o'wood
It's been absolutely gorgeous weather lately. Although the flip side of that is the looming spectre of drought. We could definitely use some steady gentle rain.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

uh oh

During the long time (about 2 years) that I was trying to get rid of the big aquarium, we took apart the library table to park the aquarium in that space. The table top was stored in the basement and the legs stayed in the library. Now that I told the person who never picked up the aquarium that they were out of time and the new owner got it I want to reassemble the table...so where did I put the bolts???

There was a case of a rabid feral cat about 20 miles away so I wanted to make sure ours were up to date on their shots. Wow, Trigger is not a fan of car rides; he howled all the way to the vet.

I was going to pick up some straw bales I found on craigslist but all the strings had rotted through and it was just too much hassle to try to haul loose, old straw. Instead I got some more compost from the farm for the little garden. Now to get the neighbor over with his tiller and I can start planting!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"T'ain't dead"

I'm still here! And doing okay now. Quick update: about 6 weeks of near crippling night time back pain - much better now; I just have to be careful not to overdo and I'm feeling fine.

Thursday, April 9, at noon the eggs in the incubator began hatching. 24 hours later and we have 16 beautiful healthy chicks. This was only about 50% hatch rate but I'm not sure why, maybe the rooster was overwhelmed with keeping up with 28 hens? Anyway, I'm happy with 16.



So cute! I had 5 broody hens but all were determined to set in the wall-mounted nesting boxes so I took the extreme measure of removing all the boxes. Only two hens stayed broody on floor level, the other three gave up and rejoined the flock. Last night I took two chicks out and put one under each broody to see if they would adopt. Cloudy did fine, but I couldn't find Twinkie's chick today and was afraid something had got it. Then, on my latest egg gathering I saw the missing chick...with Cloudy! Cunning hen had stolen it away and was contentedly purring. We will have to see if she is so greedy with 14 more.

Spring is fully here and it's looking to be wonderful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Good news: I get my car back tomorrow! It's taken a lot longer than expected.

 I don't normally take a camera out to the chicken coop when I lock it up for the night, but sometimes something happens that is too good to resist.



The evening bath
My homemade dustbath is made of ash, diatomaceous earth, and sand. I'm not ever sure who this is but she was raising a cloud. :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Yikes!

This makes me glad I'm not a business owner...

I was searching for greenhouse information and stumbled across the state's list of tax delinquent businesses. The interest charged is enormous! Imagine not paying $11,000 in taxes then to get the bill for $68,000. The highest listed was $93,000 in taxes resulting in a bill of $353,000. I won't even go into how many years of gross salary that would be for me.

I did my visit to the county courthouse today and paid the property taxes for 2015 and picked up the vehicle tags. I like getting the taxes over with early in the year and I had to get the tags in January anyway. That's it for annual fees until April when home owner's insurance is due.

Other news: I'm still arguing with the insurance company over the value of my car. I was told if not happy I could get statements from three dealerships for how much they would have sold it pre-accident. So I did that this week also. The first one I talked to was CarsForLes (that's how it's spelled) in Madison SD. I'm being specific because you do NOT want to go there. They were incredibly rude, mocked my car, and refused to help. I then went to Lake Herman Auto and Prostrollo's and both were friendly and had no issue with giving me a written statement. Luckily I've kept in contact with my car salesman from ten years ago and he gave me the third statement needed.

Honestly, the insurance company has not been easy to work with. They required a copy of my car title to prove I'm actually the owner. This was after numerous phone conversations where it was freaking obvious I own it and love it. Sheesh!

Thank goodness it's the weekend. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The January Thaw

I could get used to this weather. :)

It takes so little wood to heat when the sun kicks it up to over freezing. Only carrying in one bag instead of three!

 The chickens are having a great time. Each tree has a space of mud around the trunk which they had to visit today. Then when I came out it was the mad dash to see what I brought...except they didn't want to walk through the snow. The pen was full of fat hens flapping frantically to fly back to the coop.

And now, back to work.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recovering

My son came home from work Thursday with a high fever, sore throat and cough. Hello, influenza. That night I started throwing up. What are the odds we both get sick with completely different ailments? Happily, he has a strong immune system and is down to a nagging cough now. I'm feeling better too.

My wall of wood in the porch certainly came in handy yesterday. I was too weak to haul any in from the shed, but sickness and bad weather are the reasons I stacked it there, so Yay.

Chickens are still laying like mad: 16 eggs yesterday and 18 today! So proud. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stuff stuff stuff

Such a lot of bother and waste all because someone didn't take the time to familiarize himself with the vehicle he was driving that day.

I get a rental car while mine is being repaired but can't get it until Monday because I don't live in the city. I pleaded with the body shop to find a way to fix the car instead of totaling it. Because I won't go into debt, a replacement would be limited by the value set by the insurance company and whatever I could add from my savings account...not likely to be something as comfortable as my 12 year old Audi! When asked if I minded used parts I assured them that I PREFERRED used parts (reuse and recycle!).

So, it looks like I get to keep my darling old car. Yay!

The weather has been so cold that all the local schools cancelled classes today. I was tempted not to take the garbage out this morning, but figured since I had to go out and do chores anyway...

I did put up a heating lamp in the coop. When the eggs are freezing, the chickens need the extra heat source. Something is keeping them going. Sixteen eggs today.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Crunch

And Monday starts off in a bad way.


This is what happens when a school bus driver can't find his brake pedal.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

C vs F

What a difference in perception the temp measurements can make! I think in Fahrenheit so even knowing something is shown in Celsius the minuses can give me the shivers.

Broken CloudsBroken Clouds 
-18°C
Feels Like: -29°
Wind Chill:-29° Ceiling:2743m
Heat Index:-18° Visibility:16km
Dew Point:-23° Wind Speed:26km/h
Humidity:66% Direction:310° (NW)
Pressure:1033mb Wind Gusts:
Report Text: KFSD 041856Z 31014KT 10SM BKN090 BKN250 M18/M23 A3049 RMK AO2 SLP364 T11781228
2 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy-17°
3 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy-17°
4 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy-17°
7 Day Forecast - °F | °C
sunmontuewedthufrisat
jan
04
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-19°
-23°
jan
05
Light Snow
Light Snow
-13°
-24°
jan
06
M Cloudy
M Cloudy
-16°
-22°
jan
07
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-19°
-25°
jan
08
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-9°
-26°
jan
09
Cloudy
Cloudy
-10°
-21°
jan
10
M Cloudy
M Cloudy
-9°
-17°
Details for Sunday, January 04
Broken CloudsBroken Clouds 
0°F
Feels Like: -20°
Wind Chill:-20° Ceiling:9000
Heat Index: Visibility:10.00mi
Dew Point:-9° Wind Speed:16mph
Humidity:66% Direction:310° (NW)
Pressure:30.49" Wind Gusts:NA
Report Text: KFSD 041856Z 31014KT 10SM BKN090 BKN250 M18/M23 A3049 RMK AO2 SLP364 T11781228
2 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
3 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
4 PM
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
7 Day Forecast - °F | °C
sunmontuewedthufrisat
jan
04
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-1°
-9°
jan
05
Light Snow
Light Snow
-10°
jan
06
M Cloudy
M Cloudy
-6°
jan
07
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
-2°
-12°
jan
08
P Cloudy
P Cloudy
17°
-14°
jan
09
Cloudy
Cloudy
14°
-5°
jan
10
M Cloudy
M Cloudy
16°
Details for Sunday, January 04