Fortune Favors the Bold, Especially on Halloween

The weather here this evening was in the mid 30’s and a rain/snow mix was blowing sideways. Throughout the day, my wife and I had talked about whether or not I needed to take the older kids trick or treating at all. They had been two other times at various events so it wasn’t as though they would be deprived of candy.

Before the main event we had our traditional Halloween meal of home made white chicken chili and pizza. As dinner finished and there was talk of going out, the first flakes of snow began to fall.

It was decided that we would go to a nearby neighborhood where we had some friends and hit one or two cul de sacs and then call it a night. There were very few kids out and people were shoveling candy into our kids buckets. After the two courts the kids were still going strong. Only my three year old nephew had dropped out. He rode in the car with my sister in law behind us. Homestead Boy #2 lead the way all night. They continued for two more streets with various of the younger kids taking breaks to ride in the car. At the end of the night, after probably only a half hour, the kids had full buckets and we headed home.

Because of the weather, we had no one to compete with or wait behind at houses. And people were very generous with their candy portions because they knew the trick or treaters would be few and far between. Despite the weather, it was a wonderful Halloween.

I hope you and yours had a safe and wonderful Halloween as well. IMG_5021.JPG

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Free?

I have been finding that when you are open to it, free things have a way of finding you.  A friend of mine had some trees cut down last year, and the wood stacked under his deck.  He asked if I was interested in taking the wood to get it out from his yard.  Since I plan to heat with wood as much as possible this winter and in the future free wood is something I don’t plan to turn down.  So one day after a meeting at church I went to his house and got a trailer load of wood.  I grossly underestimated how much wood he had, so more trips will need to be made.

Also, I had been thinking about getting rabbits for awhile.  So when I happened to see a pair of rabbits, full with food, equipment, and hutches on Craigslist I pounced on the opportunity.  Granted going forward there will be recurring food costs, and I plan to make some new feeders out of PVC, but hopefully once I get a female and breed her we will be getting meat and pelts from the babies.

My friend who gave us Big Red texted me just the other night and let me know that a friend of hers had a death in the family and that they were trying to rehome some goats, chickens, and baby quail.  Well I have been wanting to get quail as well.  So it just happened that they still needed someone for the quail so I am trying to get ready for some baby quail, literally days old.  Fortunately I have a brooder, heat lamp, chick feeders, and I plan to use the third free rabbit hutch for them outside until I can get something quail specific for them.  It will only take slight temporary modification in the form of adding some wire mesh with smaller holes to make it ready for them.

While it sometimes takes some time and effort, being prepared to accept free I am finding is half the battle.

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Trapping

This post is about legally trapping animals during a legal season.  If know you aren’t going to like this post, I suggest you not read it.  If you don’t like hunting, I suggest not reading.  I will not engage in arguments about whether hunting/trapping is fair or necessary.  I will be happy to answer honest questions regarding hunting/trapping as my knowledge allows.  I will include an image of a trapped animal below.  Fair warning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are still reading I assume you have at least a passing interest in trapping.  We have what I would consider a very healthy coyote population where we live.  There are large tracts of open land where they can travel between woods and field.  You have only to go outside at night to know there are many coyotes.  Many of my neighbors have seen coyotes while deer hunting.  One neighbor and her dog were followed up to their house by several coyotes.  Last week I was woken four or five times by coyotes howling at my sheep.  With the sheep, chickens, rabbits, soon to be quail, and small children I was interested in trapping some coyotes off the property to reduce the numbers some.  Since I don’t have a lot of time to learn more about and start setting traps I found a nearby couple that traps.  They were interested in coming down and setting some traps.  Over the last few days they have been able to trap a couple coyotes.

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Little Projects

Over the past few weeks I have gotten a lot of little projects completed. Nothing huge and worthy of a post on their own, so I figured I would lump them together into one post.

Before our fall party I was able to hang the towel holder. We had been looking for a while for something to hang on the wall that would be able to hold towels and wash clause, and I had seen wine bottle holders used for that. I found this one on Amazon for a decent price so I ordered it and got it hung on the wall before our party.

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Our front screen/glass door has been getting blown open when we’d had gusty days. So I bought a chain or stop kit for it so that I can only blow so far open and not bend the piston mechanism that stopped it from slamming shut.

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I had been wanting to get a shelf and hanging rod in the laundry room so that we have some place else to put coats. Earlier this week I got the brackets on the wall using a new stud finder that I bought at Costco. I hate stud finders. So when I saw this one at Costco and they had a demonstration available for it I figured I should try it out. It didn’t disappoint.

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This past weekend I was able to get the piece of wood for the shelf screwed into the brackets and the hanging rod screwed in as well. I plan to make a bunch to go underneath it that has space to slide shoes and boots under the bench on the floor, and has a flip open seat for the kids to put mittens and hats.

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While my dad was home this weekend, he helped me I just the plumbing underneath utility tub sink and run the condensate pump from the furnace. The adjusting of the plumbing will allow me to plug the tub and keep it that way overnight if necessary and not have to worry about the tub overflowing because now the water softener discharge drains below of the tub but above the P-trap. We also ran the hose from the condensate pump into the new plumbing. The fitting is actually pretty cool, it’s like an old toy I had when I was young where you can adjust and bend it to go where you need it to. I have mentioned it before, but I am very blessed to have a father who is not only willing to help me get some projects done, but has the know how to do them.

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All in all I feel like a lot has gotten done, and I’m happy about that. Unfortunately, I think more things get added to my to do list then I am able to check off of it. But I think that is just the way of life.

 

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Frosty Sheep

This morning there was a good amount of frost covering the ground. As I surveyed the Homestead I noticed that not only had it covered the ground, but all of the sheep had a layer of frost on their backs. I knew that whitetail deer fur was so insulating that snow could land on their back and not melt because not enough heat escaped from the deer’s body. It would then stand to reason that sheep, with their wonderful wool, would have similar experience. Despite having the sheep since late last fall, they stayed at my brother in law’s house over the winter so when I saw them it was always later in the day.  So I got to discover this today.

Isn’t nature amazing?

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Ram Ramming and Ripped Pants

So somehow a cup got into the sheep’s pen over the weekend and rather than leave it there I decided I was going to go in and get it.  I decided that I should probably bring my crook with me, just in case.  It turned out to be a wise decision.

As I opened the gate and entered the pen George bellowed and got up and came my way.  This isn’t anything out of the ordinary, so it didn’t raise any red flags.  As he got close I grabbed his horns, gave him a quick pet, and redirected him away from me.  So far so good.

It was at this point he turned to face me, and then proceeded to back up.  Now I knew it was on.  He started his charge and I decided keeping the metal crook between he and I was my best course of action.  I also yelled his name in a deep voice to try and distract him from his goal.  As he got closer he turned his head slightly and slowed so I ducked to his blind side and again grabbed his horn.  Again I redirected him.

I quickly retrieved the styrofoam cup and headed for the gate.  Unfortunately George wasn’t done.  He backed away again and gave it another go.  I think the fact that the crook was between us confused him, because he wasn’t sure whether to ram the crook or me.  He got close enough before I was able to retreat to the gate that I grabbed his horns one more time.  Horn tightly clenched in one hand, gate opened with the other, I managed to catch my pants on the end of the fence tearing a neat two inch slit in them.  I was able to redirect him one last time and complete my escape through the gate.

He acted as though nothing happened and came over for a pet at the fence.  I have to say my heart rate had elevated throughout the ordeal but with cup in hand I was victorious with only a small tear in my pants to show for it.

I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to enter his domain.  With the nights getting colder the ewes have been showing signs of coming into heat.  This in turn makes the rams more territorial, so today’s experience wasn’t altogether unexpected.  I really like that crook though.

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The Accused

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My Defense

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Success!

All those long and late nights in the barn after everyone else was asleep, moving and organizing all of our “stuff” was well worth it.  We had our annual fall party on Sunday and it was, as far as I can tell, a rousing success.  It seems as though each year the party has grown and this year it seemed to grow by leaps and bounds.

But let me return to the preparing.  I most obviously couldn’t have done it without especially my wife, but the kids also chipped in as well.  Our two older boys were a great help the day before, and the morning of the party.  I am not sure we would have been ready in time were it not for them helping, and not just helping, but being eager and joyful helpers.  As a father it is always nice to see your children enjoying serving other people, and that is what they were doing.  They were serving our guests before they arrived.

The party itself is king of a blur for me.  I didn’t have nearly enough time to visit with nearly enough people but everywhere I looked I saw smiling faces and children having fun so it was a great day.  For those of you who know me, you know I love talking.  I love taking people, especially people who haven’t been to one of our fall parties, on our hay ride and showing them the property and explaining how it has gotten to where it is today.  Despite my enjoyment of the hay rides, I think my favorite part of this party was looking out over the fields and seeing many many kids of all ages, some not technically kids anymore, playing and smiling.  There was by far the most amount of kids this year, in total probably between 35-50.

I even managed not to end up buying a ridiculous amount of hot dogs, we have leftovers, but nothing obscene.  The weather held out and it was a glorious fall day.  I honestly couldn’t have hoped for anything better.

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Final Push

I have been trying to get the last things done for the party. To that end my mother in law came over and watched the littler kids while I got some things done.

There was a small amount of chainsaw work that needed to be done. Small enough that I may have considered not wearing my chainsaw chaps. That is until I was reminded how quickly things go wrong. A thread I follow on TractorbyNet told about how a gentleman got nicked with the chainsaw he was using, had to go to the hospital and has to keep his leg immobilized for six weeks. Fortunately his is mending and will be fine but it was just the unfortunate reminder I needed that no matter how “small” the job is, safety doesn’t depend on the size of the job.

I was also able to get the old water heater, air conditioner, a few batteries, and some other scrap metal loaded up and taken to the metal yard.

The chickens seem to be fine. I have checked some more for mites and haven’t found any sign. May have just been unlucky. As many people know, prey animals hide any sign of illness as long as possible. Many times until it is too late to notice or do anything about it. I will keep an eye on them but I am hopeful it was an isolated incident.

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We Lost a Hen

Late this morning Homestead Boy #2 came inside exclaiming that there was a dead chicken in the coop. I grabbed some gloves and headed to check things out. Sure enough, there was a dead hen in the middle of the coop. I took her out and did a quick exam. I found no wounds, no feather loss, and only a few what looked to be mites, certainly nothing that seemed excessive. I disposed of the hen and got to figuring what could be done to make sure no more birds were lost.

Apparently wood ash is a good material for chickens to take dust baths in. Fortunately we had two five gallon buckets of wood ash from the small wood burner we had in the barn. I took an aluminum baking pan and out about half wood ash and half sand for a dust bath.

On the way home from the dog groomer I stopped at TSC and picked up some poultry spray and this evening I cleaned out all the old bedding, sprayed down the coop, and put down all new bedding. I also raked out the run area and sprayed it down as well.

While I was at it I changed out the rabbit litter and took everything down to the compost pile.

I am hoping this takes care of any problem. The hen was one of the smallest and was what I will call failing to thrive. Fortunately it was not Homestead Boy #2’s favorite hen, Hunter. However she is another small hen so we will have to keep an eye on her. In fact tonight while I was working in the barn I noticed it was starting to rain. Hunter had stayed outside to sleep on the roost there, so I went out and out her in the coop. I figured cold and wet was not a good way to spend the night.

Sometimes farm animals die, even if you try to provide everything they need. I just hope there isn’t something else going on.

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Heat

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In that crate is 346 pounds of fire breathing, back breaking, house warmth for this winter. Who wants to help me get it into place once I build the surround?

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