Christmas Plumbing Fun

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It just wouldn’t be Christmas without some sort of plumbing issue!  Haha, seems like every year we have something go out.  First time it was the well pump.  Second, was the sump pump.  Another year, the sump pump again…  and this year, was no different.

The line running out to the farmyard hydrant decided to spring a leak.  Considering that it’s probably umpteen years old, I’m not surprised.  But it went and flooded out part of the yard and we had to turn off the water to the whole house because we could not find the actual shut off for that line of pipe!

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Well, Jessy is our resident plumber-wanna be!  She really has a knack for it.  Understands the whole process.  She has really got a good sense of it all.  When she was down there at first to just turn off the whole leak issue, she tried to find the source and found that everything was just a jumbled up mess.  It does make sense, though, this old farmhouse is multi-generational and over 115 years old.  Things have been added and changed and moved all over.

So Jessy decided that she would map out the basement plumbing lines!  She made a bunch of little tags to hang in key spots.  Since most of the area is a crawl, she made some makeshift knee pags and got her best flash light, her ipod to contact us and take pictures and her best grubby jeans and old hoodie!  IMG_2960

And off she went.  I helped upstairs, checking faucets as she turned the water on and off to figure out where the turnoffs were and all.  Poor Evee was very concerned that her Mom was down in the nasty dark place.  She would not go down the stairs to save her life!

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Ratchet was worried as well.  No one goes down in our basement.  It’s dark and has a dirt floor and is only about 10 foot by 10 foot where a normal person can stand up.  The rest is a crawl about 4 foot tall.  Nasty and old and creepy!  Jessy is such a brave young woman!

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After about an hour of work and testing, and a phone call to a friend, she located the actual turn off and got it switched off.  It was hard to find because the actual handle had broken off!  So, the house once again had water throughout, but the line out to the yard had to be turned off for now.  It’s way too cold to try and dig up that line and see if we can fix it.  To be perfectly honest, we may just abandon that line and install a new frost free line to the new hydrant we installed this summer.   It would probably be the best option.  But we’ll think about it and let Jessy decide!  She’s the plumber goddess here at Windhaven!   I’m so proud of my two young ladies…  they don’t pale at the need to do some tough things outside their comfort zone.  They are tougher than you think!  Some day, we’ll have this old homestead working wonderfully.  Until then, we will keep on and keep learning new DIY skills!

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Chicken Coop Upgrade

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Sorry to be away from the blog for awhile…  the holiday rush of orders for Miss Maggie’s company was just overwhelming!  It is a blessing for sure, but really kept us busy, busy, busy!

One of the projects on the homestead was to create a new chicken coop.  Our old coop was built into a building that we call the Poultry Barn.  That is what it was called on the deed to the farm.  We had built a rather big coop into the building and over the years have tried to improve it, finding that our skills had improved over the years and the old work we had done was not very good.  And then the building would flood a great deal.  It really was a bit of a mess.  So finally, we decided that it was time to give it up and make a better suited place for our little flock of birds.  Something easier to take care of, warmer and more suited to our feeding and care routines.

And the best place was to use some of the space in our pony barn that was just empty.  We had been storing hay and feed in this area but it’s not the most protected and after the goats got into it one day, we felt it was safer to store the feed up near the house.  Easier too!  We can unload the truck right into the new feed area and it’s much quicker and less heavy lifting.

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The ponies didn’t mind, they don’t use the feed room area at all.  Well, their tack is in there but that’s not too much.

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So the word went out on the muddy January thaw homestead that the chickens were getting a new home!    Silly pigs, of course, were happy to hear the news.  After all, all the six piglets had been moved to the pony barn!  They would be good company for the new chicken neighbors!

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The goaties were interesting…  after all, some of the loose chickens hang out there and they were all excited about the news!  IMG_3076The sheep were interested as well.  Everyone is doing well.  A bit muddy from the super warm temperatures that we had this day!  Believe it or not, middle of January, and the temperature hit 57 degrees!!  

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It’s rather hard to shoot pictures in the room, but here is a shot that can show you how the guys built the area.  They made a stud wall to fit in the space on the right side of the door.  We will still have all the space on the left side of the door for equipment and various bits and pieces of farm need.  IMG_3087

Isn’t it beautiful!   We had the door and the piece of OSB for the bottom of the coop.  And the netting we took from the old coop.  All we had to buy was 8 2 x 4’s for the frame work.  Easy as pie!  It looks so wonderful!  In the spring, I’ll give it all a nice coat of paint.

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This is looking into the barn where the ponies are and the half of the barn where we are keeping the piglets.  They are getting a little too big to stay in the smaller pig pen with their parents.  We will be raising them for freezer camp.  And we are concerned that if they are left in the old pen with impending litters from the two breeding sows, it could be a bad thing.  So they are now enjoying the winter cold in the nice warm pony barn!

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Just love how this looks!  Nice and spacious, clean and easy to keep clean!  We measured to make sure that a wheel barrow can go into the coop for easy clean out.  We used natural branches for roosts and set it all up.  The hens were so curious!  Most of them came willingly to check it out.  We had to wait till evening to catch a few rouge birds!  IMG_3095 IMG_3096 IMG_3099 IMG_3100 IMG_3102 IMG_3106 IMG_3107

Maggie is building some special roll away nest boxes for the girls but for the meanwhile, a couple milk crates work pretty good.  They are checking them out.  IMG_3109

Haha, two at a time!   The black and white one is setting on top of the red hen!  Apparently, she really had to lay NOW!  IMG_3111

My first egg of the new coop!   I just adore this lovely new coop.  So nice…  And there is electricity in this barn so we can use a light in the winter to help with laying and to give them a sense of the rhythm of day and night if it’s too cold to open up the big doors.  IMG_3119 IMG_3126

Just so love this whole upgrade!!!  Sometimes you just have to give up on something, even when you think it’s working but it’s really  not.  When the weather gets warmer, we will dismantle the old coop, save what materials we can and then use that building to store hay in the fall, most likely.  It’s least likely to flood then and it has this high raised concrete bench in there, so it will keep a lot of hay and other feeds, safe and dry.  And we’ll probably use it for storage.  Might end up like some of those old buildings that the American Pickers love!   You never know!

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Pumpkin Haul!

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It was Halloween eve and all through the Walmart, not a creature was buying the massive pumpkins they still had out front…  so I asked the manager…  what happens to all your pumpkins when you are done?  He said a few of them go to a local food bank but honestly, the rest get THROWN OUT!!!  Oh dear!   I asked, would it be okay if we took them when you’re done and gave them to our lovely little farm critters?  He said, SURE!  I’ll call you.

Well, it was only a few hours later and he said, we’re done…  come get them!

I thought it was just going to be a few, since that was all that was up front of the store on some display shelves!  I didn’t expect 4 HUGE cardboard pallet things FULL of giant pumpkins.  IMG_2675

We ended up making two truck load trips with these giant pumpkins!  Super fresh, too, not a single one was old or mushy.  Our gang LOVE pumpkins.  From the hogs to the chickens, sheep and goats.  Only one that refuse them are the ponies.  (But we know equines are the divas of the livestock world, anyway.)

With the weather finally turning chilly, these babies will keep and keep!  A frozen pumpkin is just as good to nibble as a warm one.  And pumpkin seeds are a lovely natural wormer!  Yah!  Free food and preventative as well.  We sure got a workout!  Those babies are HUGE.  And considering they were asking $10 a pumpkin, we got over a $1,000 worth of these things!  Even if you got a load from the Amish by the truck load, it’s usually $25-$50 a load.  So worth it.  And the critters just love a pumpkin or two a day!  We will have a lot of these for at least a month or two!  Yah!

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Runaway!!!!   Pumpkin trying to escape!!!!

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BIG pumpkins!!!!  We have been sharing them with our farm friends but we still have a huge pile!  We want to go and get a few bags or a load of apples, too…  Don’t want the ponies to feel left out and everyone enjoys apples, too!  YUM!

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