chicken coop water buckets made

I made all three buckets, the nipples are installed.  I put the one in for the baby chickens.  I have to move some more stuff around inside the coop to make room for those.  I think I am going to stick one inside and one outside.  Still contemplating where the outside one is going to go.  I think directly above the chicken door and ramp.  I dug out 50% of the bedding.  The coop smells like ammonia, which means the bedding is too wet.  So I dug out half and will finish the rest this weekend.  Then I will have to purchase some more bedding (more cost to my chickens!).  On the plus side the chickens are starting to lay eggs!!  I collected 20 eggs today, not too shabby from 27 chickens. 
The sheep are still getting out.  That is on this weekend’s list also.  To top it off the sheep get out of our pasture then the lambs crawl under a second gate and get out in the car area!  The adult sheep cannot crawl under the gate.  I think I have it figured out, will know after this weekend.   

farmwork

Sometimes it seems that working on the farm is therapeutic.  It relaxes the soul.  I am going to go out today and make my new chicken water system.  We purchased some nipples and I am going to install them into the bottom of five gallon buckets.  They just let a single drop of water hang from the nipple, once the chicken drinks it another one appears.  The nipples never drop water.  I need to get them up so the chickens can learn to use them.  I don’t expect them to have any trouble with it.  Heck, they eat snow and drink dew off of the grass. 
I still have not figured out how to upload pictures yet.  Hopefully, this weekend Annmarie can teach me how. 
We have the butcher coming on Saturday or Monday to kill two sheep.  It was going to be three, but the one ewe is pregnant again.  This will be her third pregnancy.  She has not had a single live birth.  This is her last chance for redemption.  With the sheep being able to stay overnight in a locked protected area every night I expect her to come through this time.  It is still warm here so we have not been locking the sheep up at night yet.  The price is right for us.  The butcher charges a flat $100 for kill and cut and wrap for each sheep.  We just got a lamb from our in laws last week (prior commitment before we realized we would be butchering) and the cut meat weighed around 65lb.  The current market price is around $1.25/lb live weight.  We figure our sheep are running around 125lb live weight.  You get about 50% left over as carcass weight after slaughter.  So if we only charge $125/animal buyer, cost for cut and wrapped meat would be around $4.50/lb. If we only charged $100/animal it would be $4/lb.  We will see how it goes next year.  It seems kinda expensive, but I just did a quick price check online and the cheapest place I could find it is around $6.50/lb, with the average around $10/lb.  So we are going to have a lot of lamb to eat. 
 The coyotes were howling just over the ridge last night.  They haven’t been that close in a while.  The chickens were already locked up for the night.  I haven’t caught anything in my live trap in a while except chickens.  I had to let one out yesterday evening.  They just do not get any smarter.  I am getting more green eggs now.  I still have lots of small eggs.  They are slowly getting bigger, but it is seemingly taking forever.  I am back to selling all my eggs.  I have more customers than eggs.  So I will start doling them out again, especially as production drops off due to Winter. 
My new plan for fortune is to grow wine grapes on our barren back hillside.  I have started reading up on it.  It is very daunting!  Lots of information, especially about climate and soil conditions.  I am going to start researching things hard and getting some expert opinion.  Will see if it is an option.  I would like to see the farm go into production of something that can sustain itself.  I would love to grow hemp, but it is not currently legal nationally.  Oregon actually passed a law this year making it legal on the State level.  Tough crop that can grow anywhere and very useful as a fiber and soil enhancer.  This whole region used to grow it during WW II, so I know it is a viable crop for the region.  Oh well, not yet. 

Fall is creeping upon us

Well, now that the cook shack saga is almost over (need to write a postmortem and create a “how to” notebook) I am back at the farm.  I went into town on Monday and got some free pallets and some more cow panels.  I had a heck of a time getting the “cow panels”.  The clerk was some girl fresh out of high school and had been there less than 6 months.  I told her I wanted a panel four feet high that was located right next to the hog wire panels.  She had no clue and I did not know they were called “cow panels”.  It took 15 minutes to finally get someone who knew what I was talking about and what I wanted.

sheep pens and barrier for wintering sheep.  Now if someone else could just do all the work…

 So I used the pallets to create two baby pens in our barn lean to.  We are going to use them to lock the momma and brand new babies together for about 3 days.  I also made a gate and chute on the end of the lean to so that we can herd the sheep in at night and lock them up!!  No more wandering around at 0300 in cold dark, half dressed with a flashlight looking for newborn lambs!!  I am stoked about that.  Since we are still having to lock the chickens up every night anyway, it isn’t even an extra trip.

 Here is the old milk shed entrance.  It no longer has a gate on it.  I used an old metal gate (on the far right side of the picture) last year to keep the cows out of here.  I stored the hay here last winter.  This year we are going to let the sheep stay in here during the winter.  They will be able to come and go as they please during the day and get locked up at night.

Here is the addition I made using pallets and a cut panel of fencing.   The cut panel is attached to the pallets and acts as a gate. When the sheep are in the barn it can be closed at night and they will be stuck in the barn all night.  During the day the large green gate opens and becomes part of the path to allow the sheep free access.


Here is a side view that better shows that.  The panel will swing over and connect to the corner of the barn.  The green gate swings shut also keeping the cows out of our pasture.

Here is the inside of the old milk shed attached to the barn.  If you look in the far left side you will see the floor drooping.  It is also drooping in the far center.  So I had to fence that all off, add two baby pens and bring a feeder in so I could feed hay inside.  I hope to keep it dry all the time this year and teach the sheep to come when we call.  There are two that come every time, but I would like them all to do it.  I figure we can get that behavior in place this Winter.

Here is the completed deal.  I have a fence on the far end to keep them away from the damaged floor (remember, this section of the barn is on the demolish and reuse plan, I just haven’t had time to do it yet).  I have a feeder and the pens are built.  I just need to add some USB board to the pen floors and walls so it will stay warmer.

I spent the last two days wiring the chicken coop for power.  It should have been easy.  I already had the conduit in the ground.  I spent 4 hours trying to get a single wire through the conduit.  What a pain in the butt.  I had to finally dig out the end next to the coop and cut off the bend.  Too much glue and it would not make the corner.  I only installed one outlet on the outside of the coop and one inside the coop for now.  That will get us through the winter.  Next year I will wire in a light and a switch and a light for the supply room in back of the coop.  One more outlet in the baby area so I can hook up a heat lamp easily.  As an added benefit I put an outside outlet on the back of the old house.  I still need to add an outlet out by the cars…  When I get the barn redone I think I will trench a line over to the barn.  I just want lights and one outlet for a water heater.  I really don’t want to have to carry hot water all over the farm in the Winter.  We have frost free hydrants so you can use them in the winter as long as you immediately turn them off!!  (I really don’t want to have to replace any more of those, they are expensive and a pain to dig down and replace)
We are going to have two sheep slaughtered on October 1.  An older neutered male and our neutered baby from this Spring.  I will let everyone know what it costs when it is all said and done.  We are guesstimating around $4/lb by the time you add cost of lamb, slaughter cost and cut and wrap cost.  Now the side benefit of that is they are all grass fed and very healthy free ranging animals.  It may end up around $5/lb.  We are just not sure.  Live weight is $1.25/lb last time we looked.  These animals are around 130#.  $65 is the slaughter fee and I am not sure of the cut and wrap charge.  We did not end up with any more sheep this year.  I would like about five more this year, but I have not had time to hunt around for a good deal. 
The pheasants are everywhere.  It is going to be a good year for hunting.  The deer are coming in and eating my plums off of the trees.  I did not get any golden plums.  Oh well. 
I did can some leftover tomatoes from the cook shack.  28 quarts!  We are set for the winter for tomatoes.  The chicken yard still smells like burgers and grilled onions.  I am sure it is from the grease that was mixed in with the compost.  The compost is gone except for a few onions. 
The chickens are starting to lay more consistently.  We are getting around 15 eggs/day now.  I am hoping to get that to 20 in October.  I have my light on a timer and it is going now.  They are getting 17 hours of light every day (optimum hours per some research paper I read on chicken production).  The chicken door accidently got shut yesterday.  I suspect one of the sheep tried to stick their head into the coop (the sheep like chicken food) and knocked the door down.  When I went out to lock the chickens up they were all perched on the step and ramp going into the coop.  I had to pick them up one at a time and toss them into the lit coop.  Some of them voiced their protest fervently.  One even tried to peck me, but I was onto her.  A few of the Silver laced Wyandottes are peckers, so I was ready.  She didn’t get me.

Cook shack saga ends…

Well it is over.  As the week went on, it just got more ridiculous.  Wednesday morning it was just Annmarie and I to get it all set up after moving the trailer the night before.  Luckily, I was not present for the move.  I was told that without the forklift the trailer never would have fit into that tight spot.  I suspect that there was much adult language used to assist the manuevering needed to get the trailer in place.  I had to take several trips with the car to get all the food necessary to fill the trailer.  We were slow gettting things going due to the move mess.  We were short of help all day long, but did very well.  I also managed to get a steam burn from the grill on the back of my hand.  Unfortunately, we had no clean up crew and it took us quite a while to clean up.  We got out of the cook shack after 2030.  I was carrying chicken food (discarded food scraps) back to the car over a mile away.  The chickens are just not going to be gracious enough I am sure.

This was our location at the Round-Up.  It was very nice. 

  Thursday morning was the same thing except I had to fill the propane tanks also.  It was getting very busy so it was hard to get it all done before 1100.  I panicked Thursday morning because the cooler was too warm.  We checked the food and threw out some hot dogs and I called the refrigerator repair company.  It turned out that we had a bent fan and a broken thermometer and a charred plug.  So we threw out the bad thermometer, I grabbed a 20 amp plug and repaired that and everything was golden again.  Until we started to run out of food.  I had to hoof it back to the pool and load up my trusty wagon with food and hamburger and hot dog buns.  Now I had to go to the other end of town in my car for the buns.  Made the trip on foot with my wagon and as soon as I showed up I had to leave for more buns.  My feet were killing me by the end of the day.  More cleanup.   I had asked everyone to throw the scraps in five gallon buckets for the chickens.  I ended up with two buckets and one weighed almost fourty pounds!  My feet were killing me and I had to stop every 50 feet to change hands for the buckets.  I got home at 2100 and helped Annmarie count money for another 2 hours.
  So I was slow getting up Friday morning, but had told Annmarie to stay home and we were not going to do breakfast.  Our new location is directly across from the Let’er Buck room entrance and exit.  Not the breakfast crowd.  So I got in around 0800, unloaded some condiments I had bought on Thursday but left in the car.  I went and loaded the car to the gills cause I did not want to have to do the wagon thing again.  Annmarie had even put moleskin on my feet before I left.  The road was closed when I tried to get back to the Round Up grounds.  The Westward Ho parade was that morning.  So…. I went back to the pool house and broke out the big green wagon, unloaded half the car and preceded to drag it all to the cook shack.  Now the fun part was I had to drag the wagon past a few hundred nervous horses.  Not very fun, and it took me two more trips!  My feet were screaming.  I worked for another 10 hours, had to make a trip to the pool house after sending Annmarie for another 800 burger patties as we were going to run out of the 5000 I had initially purchased,  cleaned up and got home at 2030.  We were much faster at cleaning.  The pace was very quick.  We sold the most burgers ever.  Over 1150 patties cooked on Friday.  I had seen our company at the Round Up.  They were going to go to Happy Canyon then come out to the house.  So I went home and moved a lamp into the library and ran an extension cord to the hallway so they could have light.  They showed up around 2230.  They had a hard time figuring out how to get in the house.  There is no doorbell.  I spotted them and opened the door.  We did not install a doorbell on purpose.  We stayed up till 2330, but everyone was very tired. 
I was up at 0500 and into Pendleton bright and early.  I was not going to use the wagon again!!  I took all the food we had to the cook shack, piled it in and went to get propane.  We ended up putting tomatoes, lettuce and onions in coolers behind the cook shack.  A full crew showed up so Annmarie and I got to go wander town, look at the vendors, do some wine tasting from a local winery and eat some fabulous food.  We had some great Thai food.  Annmarie said she was not hungry, but ended up eating about half my Thai food. 
I went in on Sunday, it was pouring down rain, to collect the food and help Mark pull the trailer out of its spot.  We ended up with a leak in the roof, most likely around the grill vent.  We did our best ever days on Friday and Saturday was even better.  We did 40% more revenue than last year.  What a way to spend my vacation.  I am now going to write it all down and make a notebook so it will be much easier the next time.  I will be sure and include some of the pitfalls and pearls. 
Today, I am canning tomatoes.  We had over 16 gallons left over.  I have 14 quarts cooking right now and another 14 getting ready to go.  The chickens are so overwhelmed by compost that they have started being picky.

New cook PSA cook shack

cook shack episode 3

So we have company coming in two days.  I needed to wash the walls in our library and floor so we could set up our medieval slat bed and air mattress for company.  We will ignore the holes in the walls, the partial ceiling and lack of power or light of any kind or a door.  I needed some time carved out to do this.  The cook shack has been all consuming.  So I talked to a couple of people and told them I would get things set up today and then I could go home and work.  I rolled in to bed last night at almost 0200.  Our alarm went off at 0515.  I tried to go back to sleep but had told Annmarie I needed to be up at 0630, so I tossed and turned until then and got up, I was anxious to get out the door and see if the ice guys would move my ice for me.  I rushed out the door on a wave of anxiety.  When I got to Pendleton, I realized I did not have any money, a wallet or the keys to the cook shack.  I had to call Annmarie.  The Coke guys saw me and took pity on me and opened our trailer (we gave them a key).  Annmarie and I loaded 800 pounds of ice into our PT cruiser.  She had to walk so I could fit more ice into the car.  Now, you may ask why am I not using our pickup for a job that obviously needs it?  The damn skunks!  The back of the pickup still smells like a skunk sprayed it.  The smell is taking forever to go away.  They are getting their revenge now. 
So after spending a couple of hours cleaning up the pop trailer and putting ice into coolers (had to clean with bleach water first), we went to grab food for the day.  Now I needed a few things so we went to the local business grocery store and bought a whole bunch of stuff, boxes of it.  Upon our arrival at the pool house I tell Annmarie we have to carry all this stuff in (50 yards) and then on the way back we carry supplies from the pool house that need to go to the cook shack.  No wasted trip.  She doesn’t care for this idea and after schlepping boxes back and forth a few times announces this is why it is taking me so long to get food.  I need a wagon or hand truck.  We get so involved in that conversation that I forget about the tomatoes and cheese I need.  I take the food to the cook shack while she goes and gets a wagon.  I unload the food and realize that I need to place an order for a lot more tomatoes and onions to make it through the weekend.  So I call the supplier.  Nope, I needed to call 2 hours earlier, the truck already left Portland.  No produce.  So I had them arrange to deliver the burgers and more hot dogs tomorrow.  Annmarie called and said the wagon would not fit in the Prius.  So I had to drive up there to get it.  Wagon is not really the correct word for said behemoth.  It barely fit in the PT cruiser.  After dropping the wagon off at the pool house, I went back to the retailer grocery store and snagged 120# of tomatoes and 350# of onions.  I still had 100# of tomatoes and 50# of onions at the prison.  I had to take that food to the pool house, using the fancy new wagon I fit all 350# of onions in the trailer/wagon and took it in one trip.  I would have had to carry them one 50# bag at a time.  I got all 120# of tomatoes in the next trip.  After stashing the tomatoes in the fridge I took the cheese and sliced tomatoes to the cook shack.  In the morning I get to go pick up the unsliced tomatoes and onions, load them back into the PT cruiser and take them to the prison for slicing.  I left notes for the oncoming cook shift and sticky notes on various things with start times.  I got out of there at 1550.  The first shift started at 1630. 
Annmarie called at 1800 to say she was done teaching.  I had her swing buy and check in on them.  They were still alive and cooking burgers!!  I did get the room walls and ceiling cleaned.  It looks like I smeared dirt streaks everywhere.  I mopped the floor and the kitchen floor.  Now I just need to clean the stove…
oh, and we have to be in the cook shack at 0600 to start breakfast! 

cook shack fixing

Well, I was back in the cook shack by 1000 today.  This being the third day of my vacation.  Ohh, did I forget to mention that I took vacation so that I could do the cook shack all week?  Guess it must have slipped my mind.  Thank fully, I had help today, one of the Swim team father’s Mark, met me in there and we rewired circuits for 6 hours.  We swapped stuff around, labeled everything, switched to 20 amp GFI and took some GFI out.  We even had to pull new wire for a new circuit (it was tight!).  I fixed the rigid window locks so you don’t have to be the hulk or have a small hammer to get them in.  I fixed the grill table so it is now pinned back against the wall.  I bought a few more grill cleaning items so we can clean the grills appropriately.  The sewage guys had not been by to pump our grey water tank yet.  So I will have to check on that in the morning.  Right now I get to read and comment on my wife’s 30 page dissertation paper. 

Annmarie went in on Friday and added 7 more booties to her collection for sale.  None of them had sold in the last two weeks.  I told her she needed to have 30 hanging up on the display before she quit doing them and moving onto something else. 

cook shack saga begins

Well the first night is over.  Had a few problems with the new cook shack.  Kept tripping the GFI outlets that were powering the drink shack via extension cord.  Couldn’t get that fixed.  Kept tripping the 15amp breaker when we plugged in the second warmer.  Tried all the outlets on the back wall.  Seems like they are all fed by the same breaker.  So we had to string an extension cord across the shack to another outlet.  Couldn’t make coffee and use the two warmers.  So no coffee.  The grill table is movable to make it easier to clean behind, it has a quick disconnect for the propane and two for the table.  It worked great… until we went to move the table back in place, the holes were off by 1/8 of an inch.  Too low so we would have to lift the back of the table.  Ran low on ice.  I started with 360#, had extra.  Half way through needed to go get more but no one wanted to let us out, luckily I had talked with the one policeman that had a key.  Sarah and I got out walked to our ice machine, about four hundred yards, grabbed 100# of ice and hoofed it back.  We had to wait 10 minutes for that same policeman to let us back in, but he did and I thanked him profusely.  (will take in two more coolers for ice)   Didn’t have all the right scraper pads to clean the grill.  Didn’t have cheap water for the workers to drink.  Didn’t have two donation cans (only had one).  To top it all off, I left my bucket of food scraps for the chickens at the shack!!
So tomorrow when I go in early to work on these issues I will pick up the chicken food and fix these problems.  Now the very nice thing tonight was we had lots of help and it was good help.  Every one chipped in and did their part.  That always makes things nice.  Obviously, some things need to be addressed but with the cook shack being brand new I expected some issues.  We didn’t get inspected by the health department.  I was hoping to get it out of the way tonight. 

So I only have 6 more evenings/days of this before it is over.  I took two weeks vacation so I could coordinate it all.  We only went through 400 burgers and around 60 hot dogs.  Oh, and we have company coming on Friday.   I need to setup a bed and clean the walls before then.  It is going to be a long week.  
good night.