Be Childish

Maybe it would be better put to say “be childlike”.  I was talking to one of the mom’s at my daughter’s gymnastics class.  One of the kids had just come out of class and told their parent that they had to go and say good bye to their friends.  These are kids who see each other for forty five minutes once a week, and they are friends.  The mom commented on how it was so nice and innocent that kids can go play in the play area in the mall for five minutes and before they can leave they have to say goodbye to their “friends”.  Kids whom they have never met before, and in all likelihood will never see again, but they are their friends.  Kids, at a young age, say five and under, have no preconceived notions or hangups about themselves.  They walk over to another child and say, “Hi, I’m (insert name).  Do you want to play?”  Nine times out of ten the other child says sure and running around the play area ensues.  Why can’t we stay with that level of acceptance and openness? Why, as we grow older, do we start to worry more about what we are wearing or how we sound, than just simply interacting with another human?

I challenge all of you to be more childlike this week.  Any of you who know me personally know that I am already childish, so I will endeavor to be more childlike.  I think if we all did that, the world would be a friendlier place.

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Laundry Room is Ready for Winter, and More Wood

At least mostly. I told you how my mom found this bench at IKEA.

Instead of building one I decided to have her get two for me, one for the front and one for the back. I finally got the one for the laundry put together. I also picked up another boot tray for all the wet and muddy boots that will be entering the house.

The room finally feels like it is a useable and somewhat organized room. The shelf and hanging rod are up and the bench and boot tray are In place. I also added a small set of aluminum drawers to organize the dog stuff. One last thing I added was a set of hooks that is Lowe enough that our two year old can reach.

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I had a little time yesterday during daylight hours to work on outside things so Homestead Boy #1 and I worked on clearing some downed trees. One had fallen over my path through the woods. It wasn’t really big, and it had been dead for a while, so it should be ready to burn now. Another was a tree that had fallen in the wind and it got hung up in other trees and was leaning over a path to one of our hunting stands, so it had to come down. Those two trees I got cut into lengths that would fit in the tractor bucket, but we didn’t have time to get it all moved. The last tree has been down for quite some time and I had used the tractor to push it far enough off the path to get by. I chained it up and was able to get it partially out, but didn’t have enough time and I had put the chainsaw away by this time. I will need to cut off the top to be able to drag it up to my wood area.

All in all it has been a productive couple of days.

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Falling Apart, Literally

Our van literally started falling apart as we left Costco the other day.  I opened the back door to load our purchases and it wouldn’t open all the way. The interior of the car door was separating from the door frame and it was catching on the opposite door.  Once I was able to get it opened something fell on the ground.  It was the screw/stud that holds the window to the door frame.

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This had fallen to the ground, and the one on the upper corner was loose as well.

Turns out these screw/studs are tightened to the car by the way of a clip and nut and over the course of 100,000+ miles they had loosened.  Fortunately all of the hardware had fallen down into the door and was caught by the plastic interior so nothing was lost.

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This was the clip that should have been held onto the door frame with the aforementioned nut

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Because the clips and nuts were not on this is how the interior of the door looked

Fortunately I was able to get the clips back in place, and tighten the screw/studs with the nuts.

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The window is now tight, all that is left is pushing the plastic back into the clip

 

Once that was done it was as simple as pushing the interior plastic back onto the clips holding them all together.  I was extremely happy that none of the parts were missing, so the repair was simple.  I was even happier that it was something I could get done myself so I didn’t have to 1) take it to the dealership/repair shop, and 2) pay the dealership/repair shop.  I guess after over 100,000 miles the nuts vibrated loose.  Hopefully that’s the only thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kitchen Repair/Upgrade

I am embarrassed to say that I have had a vice grips clamping a hose in our kitchen sink for quite some time now.  Specifically the spray handle hose on which the spray handle had broken.  It was a quick fix at the time, but honestly the amount of time it took me to get it fixed became tacky.  I had tried to repair it, but couldn’t find a sprayer handle that was an exact match so they leaked.  I had been planning on replacing the kitchen faucet so I used that as my excuse not to do anything about it immediately.

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You can see the crimp in the old hose where the vise grips kept water from spraying everywhere

A sale at Costco on a kitchen faucet that we liked was the impetus to get the project done.  I started on Tuesday morning while the Homestead Boy #3, the baby, was sleeping.  As with everything the project didn’t go according to plan.  I couldn’t get the metal washer off the bottom of the faucet hardware of the existing faucet, thus preventing me from removing the faucet.  After looking, thinking, and trying many things I finally got out the hacksaw and separated it that way.

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The cup style spacer was what I couldn’t get off. The nuts on the pex style hose wouldn’t turn out any further

The cover plate was a little bit too wide for the area on our sink so it hangs slightly over the edge.  This doesn’t bother me and wouldn’t be a problem except that it doesn’t allow for the holes to line up so I had to cut out a little bit of the sink.

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The marker indicates the part I needed to remove

I used a combination of a dremel tool with a small cut off wheel and a file to remove that portion of the sink to allow the new faucet to slide through the sink freely.

A quick note on me and plumbing.  I don’t mind doing it, I have already replaced two out of the three bathroom faucets in our house with the third to come soon.  I helped my dad with running the plumbing to the house.  But I am not what you would call a small human being.  That is to say I don’t fit well under sinks.  And our kitchen sink already has the disposal and a reverse osmosis water filter and tank under it, so there was very little room to begin with.

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Does this look comfortable to you?

I also neglected to see what connections were on the faucet and what connections were on the supply lines.  Of course this meant that the two types weren’t compatible.  They both had female threading and one was 3/8″ while the other was 1/2″.  Fortunately my wife was able to stop on her way home and get two adapters so I could get the job done.

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Not going to work

Fortunately once my wife got home with the adapters I was able to get the sink operational in short order.  I only hooked the cold to hot and hot to cold once, so after that was corrected we had our new faucet, complete with no vice grips.

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It’s funny.  The new faucet and the RO water faucet pretty much match.  The new faucet is much higher which is nice for getting large pots and pans underneath.  We also now have a functional spray head, so there’s that.  I also much prefer the satin finish to the chrome look of the old one.  I guess I need to come up with another excuse to not do the dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ready for the End

I just answered the door to a man wanting to give me money. Normally that would be a welcome event.  In this case, not so much.  But let me rewind a bit.

News of the events of Thanksgiving night has spread.  It has been a story on at least two local online publications and one local television station did a story.  It must be a slow news cycle.  I don’t find it amusing.  Neither the online media nor the television station asked for my side of the story.  The online story second hand quoted me through the neighbor.  Honestly, if approached I would decline to participate.  There isn’t anything I can add.  I understand he felt the need to do what he did, but I’m ready for the end of the story.

I am still perplexed as to not only how he escaped, but why he ended up by himself that far away.  The gate was securely latched AND chained.  There is no damage to the gate, so I can’t explain it.  That said, even if he got out there isn’t any reason he would leave his ewes and go so far away.  Depending on his route he would have had to travel between 1,000 and 1,400 feet, with the more likely being the longer route just to get to the neighbors.  He would have had to leave a pen where he had plenty of food, water, and shelter.  Not to mention sheep are flock animals and he wouldn’t have left his ewes or they would have likely followed him.  He would have had to cross a field that had just been hayed this fall and had shorter, tender grass to eat.  The only thing I can think of is that he was following something that he thought was a threat.

Which leads me to the man at the door offering me money.  A friend of my neighbor wanted to know if I still had the sheep’s head.  When I told him that I did, he asked if he could buy it.  I told him that I was going to keep it, and probably mount it myself.  He wanted it as a “trophy” to mount and give to my neighbor.  Even after several offers, I declined.  I don’t want to add to the drama, and he was pretty much a pet, not a “trophy”.  I’m ready for the end of the story.

Now there will be no doubt.  I never thought I would have to padlock my animal pens to make sure they stay in and others stay out, but I want there to be no chance.  Both gates have been padlocked.

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Lock and key it is

 

Posted in Farming, homesteading, Opinion, sheep | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Possibly the Perfect Present?

I am an admitted Amazon junky.  Most of the time, they have the best price on an item, and even if they don’t I rely on Amazon reviews to let me know if an item is worth buying or not.  Going out shopping, with five kids, and loading  everyone up and heading to the store isn’t always actually as fun as you might think it would be.  Not to mention bundling up a baby in the cold weather month just adds one more thing to “going out”.  So if I can have an item delivered to my door for less than going out, spending money on gas, and time away from other things that need to get done, I call that a win-win-win-win….win…..

To that end, I have been an Amazon Prime member for several years.  Amazon Prime has many benefits, and they keep on adding new benefits all the time.  The most basic benefit is free two day shipping on millions of items, with almost no minimum on order size.  I say almost because they have some items that are so small that it doesn’t make sense to ship them individually so they are called add-on items.  They save them in your cart until you get to a certain dollar amount, I think $25, and then ship them.  Mostly though, you can order anything and have it delivered two business days later for free.  That can add up quickly.

Since I joined, Amazon Prime has also added thousands of streaming movies, and millions of streaming songs.  I will be honest, I don’t use this much anymore since we are on satellite internet and have a finite amount of download space, but if you don’t have limits to your internet this is very nice.  I watched movies on our computer screen, and there is an app to watch them on your television, phone, or tablet.  The songs are pretty self explanatory, and they also have an app for that.  There are also times when Prime members get first crack at special deals, which is nice.

Full disclosure, I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I get a small(very small) percentage of items bought after clicking on a link on my site.  Not sure I have even made enough to go to the movies yet, but it’s something.  I would have written this post even if I wasn’t an affiliate, but I wanted to be honest in that if you click on the links above and purchase an Amazon Prime membership, I will get a small amount.  I enjoy reviewing items that I buy on Amazon and helping others find items I have found useful.

If you have a person in your life who buys things on Amazon, or if you yourself enjoying finding and ordering things from Amazon, this might be the perfect gift for this Christmas.  It has plenty of benefits, including helping this blog.

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Take Your Kids to Church

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We have five kids ranging in age from almost six months to 10 years.  To say that keeping them all concentrating on what is happening on the alter is difficult is an understatement.  We used to sit near the back of church.  The reasoning was that if we were in the back we would “bother” less people and have an easy escape route if one of the children became especially noisy.  At some point we heard the recommendation of sitting in the front row.  The reasoning behind that was the kids could more easily see what was happening and would be more likely to pay attention.

I resisted this move for some time, after all, if we were in front everyone would see our kids “misbehaving”.  I will admit it has been one of the best moves we could have made, and the kids do pay more attention.  They aren’t what I would call perfect, but I am not sure my behavior is perfect so why should I expect them to be.

While I still fear our two year old will run up onto the altar or take a quick dip in the baptismal font, it hasn’t happened yet.  I still have my moments of, “Oh God, everyone can see our kids doing x,y or z,” but I haven’t seen any dirty looks.  I guess that’s another benefit of sitting in front, you can’t see anyone making faces at you because they are all behind you.  More often than not though, people come up and tell us how wonderful our children behaved, which always prompts the question in my mind “whose children were you watching?”

Just yesterday alone, we had two gentlemen come up to us after church and give us encouragement.  One man told us he was one of six children and he loved seeing large families.  The other, and the one that prompted me to write this blog, told my wife that his father was dying, he would probably die that day or today.  The whole second part of church our 5 year old was talking to this gentleman, despite my wife asking her to be quiet.  Apparently it made this man’s day and took his mind of the current events, if just for a moment.

Had this man not talked to my wife afterwards we would have never known what effect our family had on him.  I have to imagine for every person who comes up and says something to us about our family there are others that are thinking it.  To think that God used our children to brighten a man’s day make’s my day.  Sure there are probably those that scowl at our family when the kids make too much noise, but as I have heard in homilies/sermons before if we don’t start the kids early how will they learn?

Take your kids to church, don’t wait until they are older to start taking them.  Sit in the cry room if you must, but go.  If you get brave, try sitting in the front row, it really does help the kids pay attention.  At our church we actually have a group of regular front row families who all have small children.  I call us the crazy front row crew.  Come join us, won’t you?

 

 

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Dealing with the Aftermath

Saturday was spent trying to get back to normal.  I spent the morning cleaning up after the butchering that was done yesterday and packaging up the things that needed to go into the garbage.  I still have a skin I have to decide what I want to do with.  It obviously isn’t a perfect skin because of how the sheep was killed, but I feel as though I should try.  I called a tanner and it would be $180 to have it tanned.  That seems ridiculous to me, so maybe since it is a flawed skin it would be the perfect one to try and tan myself.  I am also thinking about doing a European head mount myself as I saw a relatively easy way to do that on Facebook.

The ewes are off, and I hope the stress of the situation doesn’t make them susceptible to illness.  When they had a ram with them, they made almost no sound at all.  I hardly ever heard them bleat.  Now, any time I am outside they are bleating at me and coming up to the fence closest to wherever I am.  It’s a bit depressing.

After getting the barn cleaned up and everything put out with the trash I took the tractor down to the wood pile and brought a couple loads of rounds up to the house.  Using an old heavy maul I bought at the resale store and my Fiskars X17 splitting axe I split those two loads of wood.

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I love the X17 for splitting the smaller stuff.  It is light, but has plenty of power for rounds that are about 12″ in diameter.  It is the right size where I can almost use it comfortably one handed.  It is also the perfect size that I could use it to teach my oldest son how to split wood.  He was a big help, and loves to help on projects like this.  I use the big heavy maul for the bigger stuff, and I used it on the littler stuff since my son wanted to help with splitting.  So we have already started heating with wood, even though the stove isn’t installed yet.  I always hear, “when you heat with wood, you heat twice.”  We definitely worked up a sweat.  Later in the afternoon I brought up three more loads of wood with the tractor and we got started on splitting that before I went out hunting.

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This is after the first two loads, now it is pretty much full

 

On the subject of the wood stove… I am anxious to get it installed.  I am waiting on some information from the inspector regarding what covering I can use on the wall to decrease the necessary clearances.  The stove comes with a chart of clearances for each side, but that is clearance to combustible materials.  I am hopefully that we can reduce the clearances by covering the wall in tile.

I had actually planned on writing this blog while I was out hunting, but I inadvertently left my phone in the barn while I was getting ready to hunt.  It was actually quite nice.  I normally check my email every once in awhile, toy with the blog, or text my dad if he is hunting at the same time if I have my phone while hunting.  Not having it I definitely observed nature more.  In fact I entertained myself with watching a mouse crawl under the leaf litter from his home in a pile of sticks out to some corn I had thrown out for the deer.  He was so well camouflaged that most of the time I could only see the leaves lifting up slightly as his body passed underneath.  He must have made 25 trips gathering corn kernels.  I was also able to start planning my new path through the woods over to where the hunting blind I was in is located.

It was a mostly normal day, and for that I am thankful.  Getting things done was great.  I still have a lot of work left to do with cutting and splitting wood.

 

Posted in building, DIY, Family, homesteading, hunting, kids, Outdoors, Preparation, sheep | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Unplanned Friday

After the events of late Thanksgiving night, I had several things that needed to get done on Friday that were not planned.  Going forward I will be referring to George as the sheep, moving from the mindset of pet to that of resource I guess.

We hung the sheep overnight Thursday.  As my wife had to go to work on Friday I had to get things done when I could.  While the baby was taking a nap I was able to shear the sheep and get him into the barn to warm up slightly so butchering would be possible, we only heat the barn to 50 degrees and it had gotten down to the upper 20’s that night.  I was obviously not able to save the whole fleece, but I got what I could.  I am thinking about taking the less quality pieces that had gotten soiled/bloody and selling them to trappers.  I have learned that trappers use wool as a natural material to hold scent lures.

That afternoon my mother came over to help watch the kids so my dad and I could butcher the sheep.  We had told the kids earlier in the day what had happened and they seemed to deal with it pretty well. We worked for a little over 2 hours getting all the cuts done and then spent another 45 minutes to an hour preparing the cuts for freezing.  In the middle of that we were able to hunt, unsuccessfully, for about an hour and a half.

Also during the morning nap I was able to use these brackets that I had bought from Tractor supply to build a wood rack.  I used four pressure treated 2×4’s, two of which I cut in half for the uprights.

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It was an altogether unplanned day, but one that was productive nonetheless.  We have a freezer that has more meat in it than when the day started, I was able to get experience in how to butcher an animal, and I got slightly more prepared for firewood.

 

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A Blessed Thanksgiving That Ends in Homestead Tradgedy

The day started out with me getting up early to head out to my tree hoping to get a deer.  I didn’t see a thing, but as always it was good sitting in a tree in nature, even if it was cold.  We proceeded to get ready to head to the in-laws for dinner.  We were even treated to a Lions Thanksgiving day win.

Thanksgiving has been made easier on our family by my in-laws including my parents in the dinner festivities.  This saves us from having to try and split time and go to more than one place during the day and it is nice to be able to visit with everyone at one time.  Dinner, as always, was wonderful.

Upon arriving home I noticed some shadows close to the house.  They were low to the ground and looked like they could be the sheep, but they were out of place so close to the house.  I shined the flashlight their direction and sure enough the four ewes were up near the house.  I quickly set down what I was carrying and was able to calmly herd them back into their pen.  The only theory I can come up with as to how they got out was that George rammed the gate open through both the gate latch and the chain around the post.

George however, was no where to be found.  After donning a warmer coat and grabbing a more powerful flashlight I started around the property looking for George.  After walking almost the whole property and still not finding him I crossed the road hoping to find him in the soybean field across the street.  As I was shining the light there, I got a text from the neighbor who lives next to the field, diagonal(or kitty corner), across the street.  He was out of town, but his son was watching the house and had spoken with a Sheriff’s deputy that evening.  Apparently George had gotten to a neighbor’s house and caused trouble.  I called the Sheriff’s office and shortly after the deputy called me.

Apparently George had gotten over to the neighbor’s front yard.  When the neighbor took his dog out after dinner, George tried to follow them into the house through the garage.  When they closed the door on him, George started ramming the door.  The man then went to the front door to call the dog in, and George followed him to the front door and started ramming there.  At this point they didn’t know how they were going to stop him and they decided that it was necessary to shoot him.  We are sad that George is no longer part of the farm.  I honestly can’t say how I would have reacted before having sheep.  We are at least able to salvage the meat, some of his fleece, and his horns.  I have a wonderful neighbor who came over late at night to help me process the meat so as to save it.

Our oldest son was able to figure out what was happening when I stopped looking for George and was talking to several people on the phone.  At this point he is taking it relatively well.  I didn’t tell the rest of the kids because honestly I don’t think they would have been able to go to sleep for awhile.

On a practical note, I have no way to know if he was able to breed the ewes.  If not, it will be a sad spring with no baby lambs running around.  I am unsure at this point if trying to find another ram makes sense or not.  Any suggestions from experienced sheep herders would be much appreciated.

Despite George trying to ram me when I was cleaning their pen, he was such a good boy.  When ramming this fall it was easily attributable to protecting his girls during breeding season.  Even then, he still came to the fence for a pet on the back and would follow the kids around the perimeter of the pen as they would pick grass and clover for him.  He will be missed.

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Posted in Family, Farming, homesteading, kids, sheep | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments