Monday, May 21, 2012

Can You Tell...?

..we have some hillbilly ingenuity in us?
Either that or I watched Goonies a lot as a kid?

The pool is set up and now comes the task of procuring more than 6,000 gallons of water to fill it!
It's supposed to rain all day, so we wanted to try and capture some of that rainwater and divert it into the pool.

See? Ladders propping up old gutters left behind in the pole barn.

Some old t-bars weighing down the first gutter, delicately sitting on the frame of the barn, with the sledge hammer actually keeping it from sliding! The gutter sits on top of the greenhouse and the t-bars keep it from sliding off.

That's hillbilly gravity-defying skill at it's best!

Water from the first gutter drips into the second gutter which is sitting atop a log and broken cinder block set into the first rung of the ladder.

 Water flows into the third gutter sitting on another ladder, finally dripping into the pool.

Not a bad set up. Looks crazy, but every drop helps to fill up the pool!
(pardon the mess. pretend you don't see anything but the pool and the hillbilly gutters! thank you.)

We are going to rig up a better gutter system around the pole barn so that all the water will flow into rain barrels, which will then be used for topping off the pool and watering the garden. We were pleased to see there were plenty of old gutters left in the rafters of the pole barn, much more than we originally thought. Looking forward to coming up with a rainwater-catching system using what we have!

*edited to add:
The hillbilly gutters added over 400 gallons of water to the pool! Obviously not enough to fill the pool, but 400 gallons!!  Whoa! 
We had the pool water guy come out and fill it; one trip = 2,000 gallons.
3 trips total for 6,000 gallons and he couldn't even put in the last bit because the gutter system added so much water-- way more than we ever expected!
We are now using the water collected in the rain barrels for topping off the pool and it's all working out great! Not once, have we needed to use the hose!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Whoa... !!

A lot of Barbies, yes?

I woke up to this audience of Barbies one morning and it was an eye-opener!
As in: "Holy cow, do my kids have a lot of Barbies!"
I think it's the first time I've seen them all together like this and there is currently a ban on the kids getting any more Barbies!
In my defense, most of these came from yard sales or thrift shops and very few cost more than $1.

They've agreed to part with some of these and narrow it down to five Barbies per girl. I can't imagine how they'll whittle it down to just 15 dolls, but I'll make sure they do and sell off the rest at a yard sale.

The Abominable Snowcat! Aaaiiiieeee!!  Run for your lives!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cooped up Coop!

After a lot of slow-poking, putting it offing, getting around to it latering..I finally fenced in the chickens! Nothing fancy, just wire fencing, 1x2 mesh; 4x4 posts, for the gateway; then t-bars and trees, for tacking up the fence.

The gateway. 4x4s set into concrete.

The view to the right, two hundred feet of fencing all the way around. The yellow ties on the fencing was put on after we put up the first panel. The chickens were running into the fencing trying to get into the coop. After I added the bows, cut from a plastic bag that once held dirt, the chickens could see the fence better and found their way around it, and into the coop.

Andrew's friend Jim brush-hogged this area for us last Spring, when I first starting doing this project. Yes, last Spring! Bought all the materials then let it sit on the back burner until finally completing this project last week!  Andrew has been burning, burning, burning away at all the weeds that grew back and made it really nice back there.

Truthfully, I think it took so long to finish the fencing because I didn't really want to fence them in. I like having the chickens out, watching them scratch in the yard, or in the front driveway. Their chicken ways fascinated me and I hated the idea of locking them away. But they were getting into things-- my rhubarb patch, the garden. And they pooped all over the sidewalk and patio area. Killed all the flowers planted around the house by digging into the dirt for their baths. And besides, after the harvesting of the fruit and vegetables, they can be let out again and enjoy freedom. They won't be cooped up all the time, I told myself, when I finally made the gate to shut the chickens in.

All they need now is a tin cup!

The gate is a simple frame made from PVC pipes, then covered with chicken wire. Held shut with a chewed through nylon leash, but still useful with the latch on the end.

Since they've been on lock-down? It's pretty nice. I still feel kind of bad about it, but it's great not having kids that were scared of the rooster, therefore scared to go out the door without a chaperone to guide them through the chicken gauntlet hanging out by the back door. Even after clearing a path, there was hesitation to run through and after 10 seconds too long, the chickens regroup and.. "Attackkkkk!!" Sure got tiring escorting multiple kids multiple times every day. Rescuing a kid too scared to move, panic in their eyes is something I don't miss one bit. I still plan to let them out come Fall, after harvest, but by then, there should only be one rooster left and he'll be too busy playin' with his ladies to worry about the kids.

Another project checked off my list!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

14 years!

Can you believe it's been 14 years since we got married?!

It's been a most wonderful life together and I am so glad it's with Andrew!

Here's to 14 years of wedded bliss and may we have many more years to come!

I love you honey!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Raised Bed: Finished!

Finally some pictures of the raised bed I built! Made completely from scrap wood from the discard pile when a friend's house was being built. It was kind of fun trying to piece together the odd sizes like a puzzle to create a strong wall that can hold in all the dirt about to be put inside. It took me a day to build this, taking a two-hour break to make lunch for the kids and waiting for Andrew to get home with more screws for me. This was all me: no plans, no help, just me and my power tools.

This is the back wall, made of all the smaller bits and once the dirt is inside, you'll never see this "patchwork" of wood boards. Before I shoveled in the dirt, I stapled in a lining all around the inside of the frame, so I won't have to worry about chemicals leeching into the dirt/plants from the treated wood.

 I made it pretty high. I debated this internally for quite a while before I went ahead and made it high.  I could have made two raised beds, but I really wanted to have a bit of area where I wouldn't have to bend over at all. Since the rhubarb will be transplanted here, it would be really nice not to bend over to harvest or maintain the plants.

I saved the longest boards for the front and the ends, and there are 2x4s all along the inside for support. I tried to piece it all together without having to cut anything, because really, sawing is a pain in the a$$. I only needed to cut 3 or 4 pieces and I used the reciprocating saw for that. I was lucky that many of the boards were the same size, which pretty much determined how wide the frame was going to be. Those boards on the ends and the short end were all the same size. Eventually, I want to paint it, either a green or blue background and then let the kids go wild and request painted flowers all over.

Couldn't resist a pix of my cuties perched on the frame!

Here it is, all filled up with composted cow manure.  It took nearly two truckloads of dirt to fill this up and I'm really happy with it!  I waited too long to transplant the rhubarb, so I'll wait until next spring and dig them up while they're dormant.  In the meantime, I'm going to go ahead and plant broccoli here, using a row cover for the first time, hoping this will be the year I finally get to harvest some before the bugs get to it!  I'm thinking of also planting a permanent spot of asparagus in the shorter end of the bed.  Any thoughts about asparagus and rhubarb growing close together?

So glad to check this project off my list!

Next post: The Chicken Coop Fence and Gate!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Walking Your Own Path

 Andrew and I, after putting the kids to bed, sat and talked, and renewed our decision to keep doing what we're doing with our lives. I have learned, long ago, not to worry about what other people do or say. If it doesn't affect me, then I'm not going to let it. I don't care what color you are, what job you have, what sexual preference you have, whether you are thin, fat, short, tall, deaf, hearing, wheelchair, missing a limb...  if you are nice to me, I'll be nice to you. If I don't know you, I won't be talking about you. And if I do know you, I won't be talking about you behind your back to other people.

I can't be worried about anyone else's path but my own. If I keep worrying about that person planting flowers along their path, or someone else hacking away weeds on their path, or yet another person straying away onto someone else's path, I'm going to neglect my own path. I'm going to trip on a root or my path will develop pot holes and I'll fall face-first into a mud puddle. I need to take care of my path, keep it trimmed and neat, decorate it with some daisies and lovely weeping willows along the path.  I might not always see what is at the end of the path, but I am going to enjoy walking my path. Worrying about someone's path will cause to me to miss the beauty in my own path-- that lovely pond just behind that rise, or the butterflies flitting among the dogwood branches, the nest of bird eggs in the limbs above my head and turtles sunning on logs in the bright sunshine.

I have made my share of mistakes, strayed off my path plenty of times and lucky for me, found my way back. I am walking where I want to be in my life-- living out in the country with my lovely husband, my four children, my home, my animals, my garden...  I wouldn't change a thing. THIS is where I want to be.

Lucky for me, my husband shares the same life goals with me and we made the mutual decision to take that leap away from the city into the country life. We didn't wait until we retired to move here, we did it while still young enough to do things that would otherwise break down our older bodies. True, we might have had more money if we waited until retirement and could hire someone to do the work, but where's the fun in that? This way, we can honestly say we did it ourselves and we learned from our mistakes and turned those errors into successes.

I know I'm on the right path and I truly belong here. I can't let what other people say or think keep me from doing what makes me happy. It's been 7 years since we moved here and soon it will be 14 years since I married Andrew. Absolutely no regrets. Zero. I'd do it all over again, because changing even one thing would change the end results, and I like where I'm at. Poor, yes, but happy. Oh, so happy!