WHAT a Day!

This was such a productive day, I can hardly believe it. And I didn’t take any pictures, it was such a busy day here at the homestead…

First off, Jr. and his crew came down to get started early on the drywall project for the weekend. Three more ceilings got finished off! The two alcoves in our “studio” (used to be the parlor but now it’s a creative studio space… and the ceiling in Jessy’s bedroom! I can’t believe the change.

Jessy’s ceiling was probably the worse, as we had a piece of plastic up, collecting the little dirt and bugs that came from the nasty ceiling above her bed! It was a good thing it was dark, because then you couldn’t see it all up there. I guess it was better than having it all fall on you, and the plastic did it’s job fine, but I’m still so glad it’s done! (And I think Jessy is much much happier!) It still needs to be either covered with some sort of ceiling tile or like tin tiles or mudded and painted. Going to wait and see what grabs her first.

And in the alcoves, oh my! So much nicer. And brighter! And whiter! And less dirty! Having raw exposed 100+ year ceilings is kind of yucky. You just can’t really keep the areas clean. Having drywall up there, it just makes the area look so much nicer. Still a bit of a work in progress, but we are definitely in stage 2 of the rehab process and it’s a HUGE step forward.

And then all the clean up and vacuuming and all, my gosh, it’s just amazing the transformation!!!

We had a 24 item to do list today. And I am happy to report that 22 of the items were accomplished in just one day!!!

Here’s what we accomplished!

Drywalled studio ceilings
Drywalled Jessy’s ceiling
Vacuumed the whole house!
Washed all the dishes
Sweep up the kitchen and dining room and mopped clean
Cleaned up the area where the corn stove was after the fire
Moved 4 big bags of pellets to the corn to return to TSC
Feed all the birds bread treats
Sorted out the freezers and set aside some meat to thaw
Hung pictures in the living room! (yeah! FInally!)
Moved straw bales to garden
Spread spent hay in the dog yard muddy spots
Toted a bale of hay to little coop
Toted a bale of hay to the big barn and spread
Toted a bale of hay to the pony barn
Made a hanging hay rack in the sheep shed out of an old hammock!
Toted a bale of hay out to the sheep
Hung Cody’s grain feeder in his barn
Put away the Holy Family
Went to the Dollar Store for a few items
Feed and Watered all the Livestock
Picked up all the house clutter
Cleaned the bathroom

Makes me tired thinking about it all! This week has been a hard week, the girls have been sick for it all, with Maggie finally feeling better and spending most of the day helping me out. Jessy is in the middle of it all, and still feeling a little puny… she helped most of the morning and finally crawled back in bed in the early afternoon and has been sleeping pretty much since then. Thank goodness, I still seem to be dodging their colds… I’ve been drinking a TON Of orange juice and just trying to keep up on my sleep and such, because I have a big big show next Friday with the band and I sure don’t want to be sick!!!

But, it’s been a hard week with all the stuff going on, and then me pretty much being the only ranch hand around the joint. Not that I’m complaining at all, in fact, I like the work for sure. But I do admit, I love working out there with Maggie, she’s my right hand farm gal buddy for sure! Jessy runs the house, she’s much more comfortable with the domestic chores inside and that’s great. She’s good at cooking and all, enjoys it. And she lends a hand outside, does good with her bunnies. But Maggie and I, we really do most of the outside chores. And I’ve missed her over the last week, outside, building and creating.

I thought out hay rack/net idea with the old hammock was just brilliant! I mean, what can you do with a weathered old hammock that one side is all ripped out of? I’m not sure why we saved it but we did. And now I know why! We cut off the broken strings, and reweaved a few back in and knotted it off good. And then we screwed it into the ceiling of the sheep shack. It’s high enough that they can comfortably wander below it, but just low enough on one end that they can reach up and nibble hay all night long. it’s holding a whole bale of hay up there, and we can easily take a flake or two off and stuff it in their little paddock hay manger that Maggie built each day when I let them loose in the morning. Pretty cool, if you ask me!

I get the biggest thrill out of fixing “systems” that are not working as well for us. Like the hay hammock. Before, we were toting hay out back every day from the garage, where we are storing it. Not a big deal, but still, on really cold mornings, it’s just hard work. I really would rather store the hay out in the big barn, but we don’t have a good system in place to keep it clean and ready. Ideally, it would be best to store hay in each animal area, like in the sheep shack or in the pony barn. But to do so, we need a safe way so that the animals don’t waste and soil it. So it felt great to get it solved in the sheep area, at the least.

In Cody’s barn, there is a old workbench, about 12 feet long or so, that runs along one wall in his huge stall. His area is 20 by 20 feet, and huge, so we left that bench as a sort of tool area, and a place to keep things from him! haha…. He’s too short to really reach up there.

We keep a bale of hay in there, pushed to the back of the bench, and then loose fluff hay near the front that he can reach and pull down to eat. It’s not super perfect, but it’s pretty good. I want to build a sort of tray, or shelf, in part of front of it, so that he can’t really reach the complete bale behind, but so that the loose hay will not just tumble down to the floor. In a perfect world, I think a piece of wire feild fence would be perfect! I’m thinking, we can attach it to a 2×4 and nail that low on his workbench legs. And then have the fence section come up and fasten to the ceiling with some wires or something, so that the loose hay just sort of lays in that wire net, so he can reach up and nibble through the holes. It would slow him down a bit, and keep from loosing so much hay on the ground. He’s pretty good at eating the hay he pulls off the bench, but still, he wastes a good portion as well.

Everytime we solve a problem and make things easier for us, that feels so cool! I love doing chores when it’s not a challenge. Everytime we start to curse something, whether it’s wasted hay or a door latch that is bad or something that just doesn’t seem to function properly, we try to let someone know and we brainstorm to fix it. I love that! I think sometimes we let drudgery into our lives by allowing little things to bug us day in and day out. The way that we do daily and repetative chores can affect our moods so easily! I want them to be simple and enjoyable.

So tomorrow’s list has two “fixes” on it… the latch on the little coop door is just not very good and is hard to fumble with and open. It’s going down!!! (gg) We’re going to make a new simple latch that will be safer and easier to work with.

And we need to make a longer feed trough for the sheep! I have this wonderful tuff rubber bucket but it’s too small for the seven sheepies! Especially now that the lambs are growing. When I feed them their sweet feed nightcap, there is way too much shoving and head butting going on. So I want to build something simple and longer so that there is more room at the table for everyone. I see the biggers girls are hogging all the groceries and that’s just not good. The younger ones need the warmth at night more and it’s just not something that I can separate them easily to insure everyone gets a fair shake. A longer trough will work perfectly! And I think I can make it with just a few boards from our pile of odd leftovers!

We’re also going to put up a new mailbox. We get a lot of little packages for the mail order business and we like to shop on Ebay. And I feel bad because our existing mailbox is really small. And rusty. Rather old and spent to be honest. And our mail lady has to get out of her jeep and come up to the house to deliver a lot of them. So we bought a nice big deep and tall mailbox!!! I told her and she was so sweet and thankful! Of course, she doesn’t mind delivering them but I thought, it’s not a good system for us… and might make her a little resentful when it’s super cold or raining or nasty out. And it slows her down. So, I’m about to go and paint our name on it, and our house number nice and big and tomorrow we will install it!!! I can’t wait. And we are going to take the old one and put it in the garden area to hold some hand tools! I love that idea.

We had a livestock death on Thursday… our black copper Marans rooster, Dammartin, died. He was doing a little poorly, just seemed weak and not too with it, the day before. I gave him some extra TLC, and a good check over, but I’m not sure what actually was his demise, however, I suspect that he had something stuck in his croup. I tried to feel it, and massage the area, consulted my books and all, but in the end, he passed away quietly in the morning. It’s part of farming… when you have livestock, you have deadstock. Part of the problem is that many of these animals will hide their illness from you until it’s pretty much too late. You just can’t give every single bird a complete checkup each and every day. You can assess their overall health when you feed and water and you do sort of get a sense of who is feeling good and who is not by watching their behaviors. I noticed he was looking a little disheveled, and he was normally a very tidy bird. And then the next day, he was weak, and I was able to just reach down and pick him up, which I knew was not normal. Usually I can catch all our birds, but it’s a little bit of a chicken rodeo event. There are only a few hens that you can just “pick up” and they are birds we raised from chicks and are comfy with that. Dammartin, he was from another farm and not that thrilled to be picked up. So when I could just reach down and catch him, I knew that he was not feeling up to his best.

I wondered too, if perhaps there were too many chickens in the little coop, especially now with the winter here and they are spending a lot of time inside. I know by “government” standards, they had four times as much space as required, but still, roosters are weird… they like to give their ladies first fill at the buffet and they have been cooped up a bit more than normal with the cold. COuld he have been going without some, so that his ladies could eat more? Well, I decided to remove 4 hens from the flock, so that there are only 12 birds in there now. I took out the non-Marans hens and they will join the free range flock. So now, we just have Silver, our home raised son of Bucka in there with the 10 hens and Turkey Girl. The four non-Marans went out to the big barn holding pen where they will live for a few days to acclimate them to their new home. I’ll probably let them out early next week. Putting them in there lets the other hens get used to them without fighting. And they learn where their new roost is for the night. I hope this will help to level out the flocks a little bit.

Well, I’ll take some photos tomorrow and maybe even a little winter video! I’ve been thinking that it would be fun to videotape Cody and the sheep…

The weather has been FANTASTIC… my gosh, we even turned off all the heaters today for nearly the whole day! The house was nice and warm. And apparently, we have another four or five days of nice sunshine and weather forecasted! I can hardly believe this is the middle of January. I hope to get my first straw bale raised bed started tomorrow. We got all the bales over to the garden area today, just have to play around and see how best they arrange. Start filling them with compost and organic matter! Can’t wait! Gardening in mid winter, who knew?

Well, I think it’s time to sign off and get a little shut eye before the next exciting day here. I just love when we have these great big productive weekends… it really makes our to do list shrink and the personal satisfaction of a job well done sink in good. It feels fantastic to have sore legs and a contentedly worked set of muscles! And it’s always awesome to have some great friends and two awesome daughters to join in and make the day fly by!!!

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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of BuckeyeBluegrass.com as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.

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