Archives for the month of: December, 2012




It is Christmas Day, blessings, joy and love to all.  Here on the homestead that includes care for the critters.  There have been many rain storms this month and the mud and wet is getting boring.  Earlier in the month we were able to get a shelter up in the pasture and in the chicken run and all this rain has given opportunity to observe how the design has held up in the field.  Though the winds were high during some of the storms the wind-blown rain was mostly kept out but did expose some flaws needing attention.  The chance for repairs came today – the time $$$ weather window was looking good in the morning.

At the pasture shelter a small adjustment to reshape an overlap joint and adding tar may have done it – we will find out after this current storm.

At the chicken coop the conditions were wetter, and with some development of mold – icky!  The doors that allow access to the nesting boxes were suffering from wind-blown rain getting behind them and collecting in the bottom of the boxes.  The wood had not been protected – one of the draw backs from installing it in winter, and I got sidetracked.  Today an L channel was added to create a dam to force the water out instead of letting it collect in the nesting boxes.  And, the entire exterior was coated in green goo (a wood treatment product to prevent fungus).

I hope it works, my fear is that it will not.

If anyone has other methods for protecting wood I would be interested in hearing them!

Today I am struck by how many versions I have of “Work Clothes”.  For the Monday through Friday daily routine I fulfill many roles on the farm, and weekends have their own version.  Regardless of the day of the week, I go through at least two versions and most days there are 3.

In the morning the work clothes are comfortable pajamas.  These clothes are plenty well matched to the job of rekindling the fire or checking e mail, even cooking breakfast.  The morning chores are calling so the pajamas are traded for the farm work clothes and out the door to feed the critters breakfast.  Upon return from the back forty, again changing and this time into work clothes for the cubical farm where the desk job patiently waits.

I try to be frugal and re-use as many sets of work clothes for a given set of activities as I find practical.  As items are not longer up to the desk job they get demoted to farm ware.  I am very thankful that my employer has gone the casual route so blue jeans and t-shirts are OK. I do have one rule for my work clothes – my pajamas never get to be the clothes worn for farm chores of any kind!

I wonder if this is why I have such negative feelings about the chore laundry?  I try not to make a set last as long as possible, otherwise there would be 3 sets going to the dirty clothes every day and that would be a complete waste of laundry resources (propane, electricity, water, my time…).  Maybe my disdain for laundry has another source.

Winter solstice is coming.  The nights grow longer and the days wane, leaving little time to accomplish all that must be done on the farm.  I used to think that winter was a time of rest, but these days my opinion has changed.  There are the same chores, plus some that are specific to winter – managing mud and filling the wood box.  And more daily chores (am and pm routines) get done by headlamp.  

Today was spent putting the garden to bed, adding 6 inches of mulch to the dormant beds and covering the potato plants as they grow.  To protect them from the frosty nights hoops and row covers, their version of blankets! 

I need to become a night owl……..

A farmer, any farmer, has a running lists of projects that need to be done. Our farm’s list is ordered by season, and as the seasons turn the list is reviewed for next eligible projects.  To be eligible a project has to “fit” – the time available, the $$$$ available, and the weather has to cooperate.

This season our projects were shelters for critters – the hens have only had a tarp for the last 2 years, and though there is a barn available it is used in a committed  fashion, meaning that an animal is in it or out in the pasture because the two are not connected, so the pasture critters needed something too!

We had 3 days (the time) after my husband finished a job (the  $$$) and a series of severe winter storms coming in (limited weather window).

Project #1 was for the critters in the pasture – 3 llamas who don’t give a hoot about the rain, 3 goats who detest rain, and one large black hog  who really wanted a nest!   This was built in 3 days – day 1 for the layout and cement pour for the foundation blocks, day 2 for framing and day 3 for the walls and roof.  While we secured the last side panel it began to rain and the first of the storms arrived by the time we put away the tools.



The next day straw was brought home and delivered into the pasture shelter to create a dry spot.  The pig built a nest and the goats hang out on top of the bales that have not yet been spread.

Project #2 was for the chickens.  Where we live there is so much predator pressure our chicken have to be penned, and our ground does not support the use of electrified poultry netting to use a rotational set up.  We have this instead.  My wonderful husband had a design to incorporate a house with porch and laying boxes right into the structure’s perimeter.  I could not picture what he was describing until it was built!


The pen is an octagon, with a “roof”.  The structure there on the left is part of the original build, but though it has provided a roost and served as a nesting boxes, it did not have enough roof to keep the rain out.  The new structure does a wonderful job mostly due to the design that keeps the wind and rain both off. 



Both of these projects had us working in rain and by worklight, but we did get them done in time for the storm with 50 mph wind and lots of rain!


This is a seasonal drainage where it exits the property via 4 16″ culverts.  By the end of the last storm they could no longer keep up and the flow exceeded the capacity for a few hours.

One day break, then more rain.  After may winters making do with tarps I am so glad to know that all my outdoor critters have a warm and dry spot available if they want it.  I will try to remember it is not an insult to me if they choose to stand out in the rain anyway.


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