I love these alternative ways to our very traditional building ideas… this is called cordwood building… and I love the ease and organic flow of the style. Using specifically cut timber to a set length, yet any size diameter, you can build these tough, thick, high thermal mass walls and buildings from scrap wood, really. It has to be seasoned but other than that, it’s not treated with anything. Just plastered together with a concrete. Often people will embed colorful bottles in sections for beautiful light! Talk about cool recycling! Or is that repurposing… yeah, I guess repurposing… still… awesome! I can’t wait to get to a certain point here at the homestead that we are not just doing catch up projects, to make the place wonderfully livable, but fun stuff, to see if we can and learn new ways of thinking. We really have just two large projects left on the “must do” list… fence in one last pasture and repair the end of the poultry barn! It’s exciting to see an end of the FIRST tunnel of this little wonderful Eden of ours.
We got 13 lovely old windows from a friend and an old wooden door with the coolest little window with wrought iron over it, too and plan to use those in the rebuild of the end of this old barn. Right now, Maggie put up this heavy plastic and it’s making it very comfortable in there for the poultry barn flock. We just have to wait a bit more for the funds to buy all the lumber needed to finish it. Won’t be too long, I hope! Besides, Jr. is our main project manager for this re-do and he’s hunting right now! (gg) That’s good because it gives us a little more time to save up for all the new 2×4’s. Actually it probably won’t take too much cash, since we’ve got the windows and door and such. Just need to buy about a dozen good 2x4s and of course, pay our buddy off for the labor! We appreciate all the wonderful help we get, but I sure don’t “expect” it just because! This will probably take a good weekend or a couple afternoons for sure. We’ll be right in there, helping out, but still, I’m not that familiar on how to rebuild a whole wall! I can sort of see how the structure will go, because the whole wall is exposed and in a state of decay. We have to put some cement into the skirt wall because some of it is moving a bit, and some rebar to strengthen it. And then a new sill plate and supports for the roof. The old door and fan are coming out. They are in pretty awful shape. Maggie wants the fan for some project! And the door? Well, it will probably be repurposed somewhere else less important… as a doorway! We are going to use 12 of the windows… 6 on each side… it will be awesome looking for SURE!!! Can’t wait. I think it will look beautiful with some Christmas lights in the windows with a light dust of snow all around… Can’t wait to get started!
Isn’t this a lovely bunny? His name is Sofie… he WAS a girl up until we began to think, hmmm…. he’s not a girl but a boy! Haha…. Angora bunnies are a little hard to sex when they are small! We’re getting much better at it, but Sofie sort of slipped by us! Funny thing, we knew his brother was a brother, but I guess we just had high hopes that Sofie was indeed a sister. But now, we know, and everyone is safe, no accidents or anything and he and his brother Pascal are roommates again. It’s all good! Mama Grizzy is playing auntie to Mo Mo and Tora, the two little French girls we got a few months ago. They are still a bit on the young side to be mommies, so we plan on waiting till after the first of the year to consider litters for them. It’s rather put our rabbitry plans on hold for a bit and we do have a nice little waiting list for French purebreds… but in the meanwhile, we are enjoying our little break and our lovely flock of spinning pets!
The pig’s feed for just 2 or 3 days at most!!!
Well, the pigs are gone… I’ll write more about that real soon, but it went well and we are pleased. They will be coming home from freezer camp sometime next week. I’m trying to focus on the good things, their happy but short life and how they will provide seven families with good, decent, humanely raised meat for the next year. I know that I will not miss this last month of their insane food needs!!! Wow! They were eating about 75 pounds of food a day. 100 if we would let them! That is a lot of trips to the feed store and a lot of 200# wheelbarrows full of chow! Maggie was the real trooper here, she was the main wrangler of the hogs and she didn’t complain, much. Haha. No, she didn’t mind and her whimpers were only of the nature such as “they knocked over the food thing, again….” or “Mom, they are drinking a lake of water a day!” Yeah… the first couple months were really very very easy. A bag of food would last them at least 3 or 4 days, if not longer. And they would drink about 10 gallons of water a day, one fill up a day. But this last month, wow, you could say, they were hogs! So it’s been nice to have a little break from that the last couple days. I know Maggie is relieved! Me too! I feel a little funny that we actually don’t need to go to the feed store and it’s been almost four days!!! They surely miss me. Haha… I wonder if they will call to make sure I’m okay?
Before all the leaves fell, I went on a walkabout and gathered leaves from our maple trees! I plan on tapping the sugar trees come this early spring. I wanted to last year, but it all got away from me and I wasn’t sure which to tap!
Well, I thought we only had 7 or 8 trees, but in the end, we have 12 HUGE maples!!! They are scattered about some. And after a good deal of looking in books, online and asking friends, we have determined that about half are sugar maples! Yeah!!!! And 3 or 4 more are silver maples, which still can be tapped but are towards the bottom of the sugaring types… and 3 are more decorative maples, mainly Norway maples, as we can figure. But as luck has it, those 3 non-sugar trees are the smaller, decorative trees in the front yard! Yah! The big sugar trees are in the back and are most likely the trees that were planted by the original homestead family. Some are easily 50 to 80 years old and big enough to support several taps. I found a place online to buy super nice, stainless steel taps, at a smaller, less damaging diameter and ready to accept 5/16 plastic tubing. This is a neat way to do this, with the tubing, you can connect several taps to one big 5 gallon pail! Pretty neat. I’m glad I took the time now, because most of the trees are naked and that would make it harder to pick out the best for tapping. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup! We’ll see! I think it will be awesome to have a sap boiling day in the early spring, over a big open fire. I know it takes hours and hours, but hopefully we will have a good day for it, some friends over and a fun adventure to look forward, too!
We have been diligently working towards getting the place ready for winter. Plastic is going up on the various buildings, and we’re sealing up the house nice and tight. The furnace is working splendidly… trying to watch the temperature inside and learning where that sweet spot is… warm enough no one is complaining, but cool enough that we’re not rushing through our tank of gas! So far, when we set our temp gauge just a wee bit under 65 in the dining room, the rest of the house is comfortable. When we leave for the day or if it’s just rather nice out, I drop it down to 60 and we’re fine. We might get a programable thermostat at some point, but the wiring for it is super short and they had a heck of a time getting this one in there, so I don’t feel the need to fuss with it. We’re home most all the time, so I can easily manage it. We still have to plastic up a few more windows in the house, but we’re almost done. Our front windows are really older and not that good… perhaps someday we will get them replaced, which would be wonderful, but until then, a good pack of window insulating plastic works wonders! We have a mix of good windows and not so good windows! Haha…. as soon as the winds blow, you can EASILY figure it out. My office, and the bedrooms need film. We’ll keep working through those as we can.
I’m hoping for another mild winter, that would be wonderful. But if fuzzy hair on a pony means anything, we are in for a doozy! Cody has turned into a fuzzy little bear overnight it seems! Everyone is noticing his fancy new hair coat. He looks positively poofy at the moment. I think he knows something we don’t. And I have noticed the sheep are really getting wooly. Good thing we got the barns all ready, comfy and cozy. We’ve been piling in the bedding right now, and don’t plan to do much mucking out until spring. The deep bedding method of warming barns really works… we just raked up the rest of the leaves today and moved 5 HUGE tarploads of leaves into the big barn to mix with all the left over pig mud and a half a truck load of wood shavings from Uncle Rod! He had some left after he finished his hogs and he was so sweet to bring them over for us! Maggie and I spent the afternoon cleaning out the pig area and trying to make the dirt floor a litle more even! Hogs really do turn over a lot of dirt! They dug up bricks and rocks and wood and all sorts of things in their 6 months of excavation! Even old tin cans!!! Crazy! We hope that all this organic matter will help to warm up the barn for the chickens and also will help us to level the floor back out somewhat!!
Haven’t had a ton of time, but we have made to batches of Fromage Blanc cheese and we love it! It’s a soft cheese, almost like a mascarpone and very very good. Sometimes it’s called a farmer’s cream cheese. Very good on bagels or toast! We made a batch that we cut in half, making one savory with the addition of garlic powder and fresh chopped green onions which was amazing. The other half we added a bit of honey and some powdered sugar. It was good too, but we voted and really liked the savory better. And probably better for us! I think the sweet version would be divine in a sweet, desert setting. Many people will use fromage blanc in place of a mascarpone cheese… I can see why!
I am still searching out a local dairy that I can get a good price on bulk cream and milk for making more cheese! It’s sure fun and relaxing to put up a batch of this or that… but the cost of store milk makes it a little pricey for us to do too much at a time. Around here, a gallon of milk is nearly $3! Sure wish I could find someone with a homestead jersey milk cow! And I know I’m not the only one! Our homesteading clan is always looking for someone to share milk with… we are up to over 150 families now. I know it’s not in our near future but I sure haven’t given up on the idea of a sweet little mini-jersey moo cow someday here at the farm! Cheese and butter… yes, that would be wonderful!
Speaking of our clan… we had our first craft circle meeting! Like an old time sewing circle… we thought it would be delightful to get together once a month through the cold time and share our crafts and visit… so Miss Peggy is our gracious hostess and we gather at a local library in the Toledo area on a Friday afternoon to bring some of our current crafts to work on and also to show off a bit! I love that scrappy quilt! So pretty… and the rings and the cute cowboy boot purse and the wreath! haha… Loved it all. It was super nice to sit and visit for a few hours, knitting and painting and scrapbooking… of course, chatting!!! Oh, yeah, and snacks….
The girls especially liked the candy part since we had to sort of get rid of all our easy to grab candy stash with my lovely health issue! It’s all good, the girls and I are healthier for it and they have times where they can get a little sweet fix from friends and such. Heck, we even have gotten to the point that we can have a goodie in the house and I am fine with it. It took me a few months to get away from sweets being a no-brainer thought, and now, they are special, special treats. Maggie made a batch of her famous cookies for the hog butchering, and I was good with it. Had a couple, but not too many. We made a little no bake cheesecake for dinner tonight and I was happy with my slim slice. If I know I’m going to have a goodie later on, I try and really eat super good and healthy for the majority of the day, and save up my carb allotment for that treat. It’s a good thing, a good lesson in learning that you can still have the good with the challenging, you just have to make allowances and good choices. But it was sure nice getting together and I can’t wait till the next one in November!!!
You sure know it’s getting colder when the kitties are using your halogen desk lamp as a warming spot! Silly kitties!
All in all, we’re doing just fine, getting ready for the cold and gearing up for our rock crazy holiday rush! Hope it’s a good one this year, we could use a little boost! Yah! We do a good deal of our sales at this time of the year, so it’s always a welcome time. In fact… check it out, we’re having our Rocktober special sale for the next week or so… 20% off Jessy’s rock and mineral kits!!! It’s a swell deal and a great way to get some cool rock and mineral kits for holiday gifts for those rock hound kids in your life!! (shameless plug there!)
Take care and will write more soon! Got at least five or six more posts of pictures to add!!! Stay safe if you are in the path of hurricane Sandy! I know we are in the path of the dying tail of this monster storm… we might get a foot of snow this week!!! Should be interesting….