Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Progress

This has been a productive weekend. First, Saturday morning I had a well-driller come out and give me an estimate for what it would cost to get some water here. Turns out that he's very confident in a good well at 200' down by the camper. A good pump can get it all the way to the house without going to a holding tank halfway, so that was great news. Also good news is that it will cost around $3000 to do, much less than I was expecting. After Christmas I should be able to do that. With the well, I can get a traditional mortgage, rather than an ARM in-house at the bank in town. That would mean considerably better interest rates. Before I can get that, though, I need homeowner's insurance, and before I can get the insurance, I need the railings on my front porch, some smoke alarms and the back steps with a railing. All within my own capabilities, so those things are now top of the 'to-do list'.

My dad and mom were here today and we got some things packed out of the old house. Dad and Garrison began the work of taking the old house down, plus they broke ground and cut a few trees to get the shed addition started. Right now I'm cooking beef stew, with carrots, potatoes, and squash. Getting ready to finish painting the bathroom. All in all, it has been a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Good Quote

Fairytales are not written to tell children that dragons exist. Children
know full well that dragons exist.
Fairytales are written to show children that sometimes dragons can be
defeated. -G. K. Chesterton


I love that quote. Just thought I'd share it with ya'll. Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a dragon, and its good to know there is hope. I found a lot of cool pictures on the web, but they were all copyright protected, so I didn't grab one to put here on my blog. I'm partial to dragons; in my fairytale, once defeated, a dragon is servant to the conqueror.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gone Baby, Gone

Earlier this year we had a hen or two setting eggs and they hatched out about a dozen chicks. I left three with the hen and put the rest in a brooder, thinking they'd have a better chance for survival. What a failed experiment! This morning I noticed, all of the ones raised in the brooder are gone, taken by predators, and only one of the three that were with the hen are gone. Her success rate was many times better than my method. The reason the ones I raised are gone is because they had no mentor, no mother to show them the way or politic for them. All chicks come out of the egg already knowing how to scratch and find food, so that's not the issue. But when the flock wouldn't accept them, they to ventured farther away to scratch and peck the ground. Badger guards the chickens of the flock and they seem to understand that they must stay within his range to stay safe. I don't lose chickens to predators when the chickens stay within his range, which is right around the house, but once they venture down the driveway or into the ravine, usually they don't last long. The conclusion to my experiment? Of course, Mother Nature knows best. In my own defense, another reason I only left her three was because she kept jumping back up to the nest to roost at night and the little ones couldn't follow. The two somehow survived being left on the ground alone at night, though, so I'm sure the rest would have been okay with it, too.

A flock of chickens is not chaotic and random, as you might think. There is a certain hierarchy and each chicken knows its ranking in the flock. This is true for all animals which live in flocks or herds.

Friday, August 21, 2009


The weather was exceptional today. I love fall and today we were getting a taste to whet the palette. Garrison had to get his pre-sports physical in Harrison, so I left work at 1 pm, hoping we'd get all the errand-running done and get home before dark. On the way through Alpena, I saw this bench. The man makes these with a chainsaw, if you can believe it. This one is huge and maybe gaudy to some, but I love it. It wouldn't look good on my porch, but it might be nice in a barn or a more rustic log-cabin style house.

We did get in before dark and even had time to get our little garden bed fenced in. It's driving me crazy to not have some sort of garden, so Garrison and I built a rock bed, a small one, but large enough to at least grow some lettuce and green onions. It already feels good and I haven't planted a thing yet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vehicle Woes

We seem to be working our way backwards up the alphabet. That's the wrong direction; it's a lot shorter to just aim for 'z'. Last was water woes, now it's vehicle woes. Let's not even ponder what could go wrong next that starts with the letter 'u'.

Anyway, the mechanic just called with an estimate for how much it's going to cost to get my jeep repaired from the deer damage. $2200. What??? That's more than the thing is worth! This really frustrates me because I just sunk a good bit into it just prior to hitting the deer to get it running again after being out of order for more than a year. So I asked Jerry if he'd make up a list for me, of all the parts it needs and put a star by the ones it absolutely has to have to get it running again. I'll see what I can find on freecycle, craigslist, and ebay. He said he wouldn't mind installing whatever parts I can scrounge up this way, and it might bring the cost down to a more affordable number. Otherwise, my old jeep is going to be calling the scrap-yard home.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flying time

Yesterday I hooked up the trailer to the truck and went to get Gabrielle's bed and mattress. But after getting the mattresses loaded, it was obvious that the bed wouldn't fit. I had also wanted to go to Lowe's to get some lattice and other supplies, but that was out of the question, too. Pretty much spent the whole day going to town and back for the mattress. And I went in to work for a little while, even though I'm scheduled off yesterday and today. Then today I went out again with the truck and trailer to get the bed. Again, it took up too much space for me to get the lattice and boards I wanted to get from Lowe's. But it is the most comfortable and pretty bed I think I've ever slept on. Haha, she has the best bed in the house, so she gets to share it from time to time with mom. This afternoon, Garrison and I built a small garden bed. Tomorrow we'll plant some lettuce, green onions, and turnips.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Nothing much

Just thought I'd post an update on the water. This morning I hiked up the mountain to find the tank is about 5" from overflowing. That's good! Plus, the water is clear, no algae or sludge, or any other floaties that commonly find their way into water tanks. No leaks anywhere. Whew! One huge hurdle overcome in the quest to be self-sufficient out here.

I'm not doing too much today, just piddling around the house. I started working on staining the baseboards for Gabrielle's room. Now that I know we have plenty water, I will wash all of the clothes and mop the floors.

Walking up the mountain to get to the tank is hard. For a long time I couldn't make the whole hike without stopping to breathe and let my thighs quit burning. But since I've been using a ladder to get to my room (versus the stairs that normal people have, lol), I think it's helped me with the hiking stamina, too. I can walk all the way to the tank now without stopping. That's a lot of heart and lung activity and it's surely good for me to continue doing that at least every Saturday. If I could force myself to do it more often, that would be better, but I'm not that much into workouts.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another one down

Well, I did it again. Monday morning, on my way to work, trying to get there early for a head-start because I had a meeting at 9, I hit a deer. Busted the radiator and one headlight, and killed the deer. A whole herd was passing, and I was stopped. I waited after they passed because I know there's always a straggler. When no stragglers appeared I put on the gas and started heading back down the road. Of course she waited to jump when I'd picked up enough speed to cause too much damage to keep going. Of course, this all took place in an area with no cell phone reception or houses nearby. So off I went, hiking down the road in my meeting clothes that I'd just made all the effort to get out of the house in without the dogs jumping on me to get me dirty. The first house I stopped at had no one awake to answer the door and no dogs to wake them up. On to the next house where some very nice folks getting dressed for work let me use the phone to call momma, who was staying at Anna's house in Kingston. Then the man dropped me back off at my jeep on his way out to work. By this time, my pants legs are grass stained and full of dew and my shirt is sweaty because it was a humid and warm morning, even at 7 a.m. By 10:00, I managed to get to work and had to walk into the meeting underway now for an hour.

That makes three deer and one cow now. I should have met my quota for a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Today's picture is compliments of Gab. This one was under the tractor she was standing next to, and kept rattling, but she couldn't figure out what the noise was until it dawned on her that it was a snake - good thing it had its mouth full or by the time she got it figured out, it would have bitten her! She was at her boyfriend's house. When I came home today, I made (well, I didn't tie him up and force him or anything; I just asked in a manner that implied there was no option, lol) Zack bring me down on the 4-wheeler to go get the horses because someone (not me) left the gate open and they went hiking. When we came back in, there was a rattlesnake stretched across the driveway. We killed it in fine Ozark fashion... by stoning it. I don't kill them if they're up on the mountain, but in the field and around the house they get killed. The dogs almost stepped on it and the horses were coming up the driveway behind us. Too risky to leave it alone.

Monday, August 03, 2009

We have Doors!

Whooo-hooo! Tried them all out, too :) It's so nice to take the curtains down from the doorways and have actual doorknobs and actual doors - especially for the bathroom.

Also, I changed the picture on the title of this blog. That's an elderberry in bloom up there now. The lighting was very nice when I took it, and I was so dismayed when I downloaded it and realized the camera was set on a low resolution at the time. So unfortunately, it's only good for a web pic, won't make a magazine or print quality picture.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

I think it's Good Now.

For real. This morning there was around 300 gallons in the tank, with no signs of leaks anywhere. So I am breathing easier, finally, and feel pretty sure this is the end of water woes for at least a little while. We've been able to take showers and wash a couple load of clothes today and not sweat over it too much. Now I'm already thinking of winter preparations. I found the heating cables so I plan to wrap the exposed lines at the house with them soon. The line is exposed all the way down the logging road, though, where the floods earlier and last year washed them out. So they'll freeze anyway if I don't keep a good hard drip going during the cold spells.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Coon in the Henhouse

Badger and Bobbie Sue must have had some excitement last night. While gathering eggs just now, I found a dead coon in the chicken's yard. No sign of chicken struggle, so the dogs must have gotten to him before he tried to get one. We have some awesome guardian dogs, otherwise we would have no chickens because of the coons and predators that love chicken. I'm surprised the critter got so close to begin with, though, because the dogs usually keep the whole area around the house clear of everything but rabbits, which they seem to tolerate until they feel up to a chase.

Learning continues...

Not that I have an aversion to learning things, but learning from my mistakes is getting old. We haven't managed to accumulate any water in the tank, so I knew something was wrong somewhere, but we just couldn't find the 'where'. This morning, I went up to the tank to look around again, and this time, I found it. Water is spilling on the ground as it leaves the tank, just as fast as it goes into the tank. Another spot where I cut it with the blade. I must have been swinging that blade some crazy to have cut it twice without noticing, haha. Take that as a warning - I'm dangerous with the swing blades!

This is the cut, under the blackberry stems.

This is the partial repair. I need another pipe clamp because one of those are broken, and a pair of gloves so I can hold the pipe without it slipping when I try to push it onto the connector.

So, after I've rested, back up the mountain I go. The tank is shut off so at least it can gain some volume in the meantime. I measured the flow. We're getting a little more than one liter per minute, which calculates out to about 12 gallons per hour. Not very much, but it's usually plenty enough when you allow the tank to fill halfway before starting to use it heavily. Halfway is 750 gallons, so we have to use sparingly while it fills.