Back at it

We got back from the hospital on Saturday so on Sunday it was either sleep or go outside and get something done.  Seems like every time I sat down I was falling asleep.  So I went out and worked on the trash can holder.  I managed to get the entire thing framed up and then did a run for the lumber (it is stored in the old chicken house).  I did buy too many 2x4s, so I swapped out a bunch of 1x12s for the extra I had just purchased.  I calculated I needed 37 of the one foot wide boards to cover all four sides and the roof.  Now that I am halfway done, I think I overestimated.  Better to have too many at this point.  Otherwise I would have to make a second trip out to the old chicken house.  The spring up there seems to be holding its own, it has eroded back into the hill, but the sink hole has not reemerged.  I am definitely going to have to keep up on that or we will end up with another bottomless sink hole (it had a bottom, but it was like quicksand, I put over 3 yards of boulders into the small hole before it finally got a bottom.  I was afraid the livestock would fall in and we would never be able to get them out).
I started the siding on the trash can holder and it is going to limit my design that can be cut into the sides.  So know I am not sure what I am going to put on it.

Trash can holder looking from the house

I am now planning to add some bird houses inside the enclosure.  I will drill some holes at the top outer edges and line them up with a bird house that I attach inside the building.  I am thinking about adding six houses.  I will install pegs in front of each  of the holes so the birds can get in and out.  Maybe the birds will help keep the yellow jacket  infestation down to a dull roar.  If not, it will still be cool!   I do have plans to add a metal roof, but I needed to get the wood up first.  It looks good with a wooden roof, but it would not hold up in the weather.  I moved the trash can into the enclosure already.  I am very tired of picking up trash!

Partially finished trash can holder

Working on my garbage can/outhouse building

Cows scratching on my nice fence!
Future garbage can holder frame

The other day I was drinking coffee in the kitchen and looking out the window when I spotted these culprits abusing my fence!  I just finished that fence last year and the cows use it as a scratching post.  If you look real close you can see a couple of rocks from the rock jack that have been knocked to the ground.  I need to string a strand of electrical wire but to do that I have to run an overhead cable from the chicken coop to the fence and then string the wire and install two gate crossings.  Needless to say that is not happening this year.

Location of future garbage can/outhouse building

I have been talking to Annmarie about building a container for our trash can.  I was going to put it across the driveway but she wanted it here, so here it is, the future home of our garbage can holder.  I am going to make it look like an outhouse.  I actually drew out some plans so I would know how much lumber to buy (I never draw plans).  I went in and picked it up today.  I only had to buy the frame pieces as I had purchased an entire bundle of 1×10 x8foot last year at a local fundraiser auction.  Those are all stacked out in the old chicken building.  I have them neatly stored for future use.  All though this really isn’t future use since I am going to use them, but I didn’t know that last year.  Clear as mud. 

I was wearing a hat (safety device for the hair impaired) when I smashed my head into the end of one of the 4×4 sticking out of the pickup bed.  It hurt and I expressed my extreme displeasure vocally to the 4×4 but I don’t think it really cared.  I was going to make a six foot by four foot enclosure.  I measured the trash can after making my lumber purchase (remember those plans I drew up earlier?) and realized that an outhouse probably did not need to be that big (trash can was only about 30 inches across each way).  So I altered the plans and made a four foot by four foot enclosure.  The bright side of this is I only had to dig four holes instead of six and ended up with two extra pressure treated 4×4.  I can always use those to fix the broken trellis next to the house.  After digging the holes (I used the Pythagorean theorem at the lumber yard to calculate the hypotenuse so I could just measure the holes and not lay out a string frame.  I had to borrow a calculator with a square root function at the store as I am not very good at getting to the inch in my head.   He offered to go get me his engineering calculator but one of cheap ones at the counter had a square root function.  I was throwing him off, I told him that all those kids that despise math have a thing or two to learn, because we use it every day) I realized that I could set one pole by myself but how was I going to set the rest of the poles and keep everything square and exactly four feet apart?  I needed some assistance.  The child was enlisted as post holder and squarer (remember she is on light duty so I had to do all the extra digging as my holes needed a little adjustment).  It was much easier with some help (thank you Sarah!).  We got the posts in and a couple of supports up to hold it all together.  My battery was running low and Sarah was starting to ask me why I was shaking while holding the drill over my head and trying to screw in the screws (I ignored the child and complained to the wife later that Spring sucks because I don’t do any hard manual labor in the Winter so I have to go on this crash exercise program every year) so I knew it was time to quit for the day.  I will get the roof supports in tomorrow and hopefully be ready to side it, who knows I may even put on the plywood roof.  Nah, no roof yet, I want to be able to put the roof up and get the tin on right away and there is not enough time tomorrow for that.  Besides if I get the rest of the framework finished I can move the trash can inside the frame and it won’t blow over anymore.  With no siding on it this will get the trash men used to our new location and they won’t ignore it (out of sight, out of mind) later.  That is a good plan.  I do have to one thing that must be completed tomorrow before I can go outside, here is to hoping the weather and this thing cooperate.  

Here is a view from the front.  I did end up deciding to make the entire front the door.  This saves me a couple of steps.  The front lower support will be removed after I get all the other supports in place.  The other view is from the house looking out toward the driveway.  I am going to cut a crescent moon into the front door and am still deciding what to cut in to the left and right sides.  I need the air to circulate and it will look nice.  I was thinking about a Jerusalem cross near the top on each end.    Who knows.  

Fencing again

I had big plans yesterday to work on our trash can holder.  I am going to make a wooden building that looks like an outhouse to store our trash can.  I am tired of the wind blowing it over and the animals rooting through the trash.  It goes everywhere!  I had headed out with the plan to set some posts and get this started, but we had decided to let the sheep out of the pasture while we were home.  So they had been running around eating grass outside of their normal pasture and my mother-in-law became concerned they would go out into the CRP fields. Normally this would not be an issue, but last year I ripped down a fence behind her fence that was made out of cattle panels (I needed them to make my other fences cross the creek).  So now the sheep have access to the CRP, so my two nephews and myself put up a new permanent fence yesterday.

There are two more lengths of smooth wire above the woven wire
the sheep are not getting through this fence.

This will keep the sheep out of the CRP now.  Everyone in our households don’t need any more things to worry about.  The ground is still very wet.  I am going to hold off about a month before starting the rest of the fencing projects.  This week I am going to concentrate on the outhouse/garbage can holder.  Finishing up a bunch of day to day stuff in the house today and will be back outside later in the week.  I really need to start spraying some of the thistles that are starting to emerge. There is always something.
Annmarie has had plenty of time to knit as she is in one hospital or the other.  I took a picture of the latest batch of baby booties.  She has done several baby hats recently.  She tells me that she should have enough booties in the store that she is going to switch to fingerless gloves next.  She likes the variety.  She has several shoe rejects she is thinking about turning into pin cushions.  I keep snagging them for baby showers at work and since half the department is currently pregnant (small exaggeration, but not much) or has just had a baby, I have been making serious in roads into the booties going to the store.

Annmarie hand knitted all these.  She takes them into a local craft
store and lists them for sale.  

 The plumbing is fixed again.  We had to call the plumber on Friday, he came out on Saturday.  Our cold water shut off valve under the sink was full of loose glue strands from the PVC line that was replaced in the orchard.  I also had to do surgery on the water aerator that goes with our fancy sink spigot.  It has 6 pieces all with microscopic/pin sized holes in them to create that aeration feel when the water comes out.  I used a 1/8 inch drill to add my own holes.  It works much better now.  Our water is hard and the holes were plugging up.  Now that problem is fixed and you really cannot tell, honestly.  So we have water at the kitchen sink.  It no longer takes five minutes to fill the dog water dish.

March chicken financials

One of these eggs is supposed to be blue, I
just don’t see it, looks green to me. 

Well, it is April fools day, but I am not fooling, the price of eggs is up!  I have officially raised the price to $3/dozen.  After all the Spring cleaning in the coop, new litter for the coop, heat lights for the baby chicks and new baby chicks I am back in the red again.  No big surprise there, but it still sucks.  The weather really killed me last month.  It rained, it snowed, it got warm then it did it all over again in no particular order.  The chickens just do not do well with unpredictable events, plus I had some molting.  
I lost $96.07 for the month on an average 27 hens laying (Sarah counted the hens a week ago and says we have more than 27, so I am going to try and do an official recount this weekend).  My net income total is $62.31 for the year  I had $55.60 in expenses for feed (250#) this month.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $65.42. We collected a total of 302 usable eggs (50 less than last month) averaging 9.7 eggs/day collected (for the year the average is 12.1 eggs/day).  My productivity for the month was 37% (down 10% from last month) (for the year it is 45%).  The chickens ate 0.83# food/egg (for the year are averaging 0.66# food/egg).   It cost $0.18/egg or $2.16/doz for feed ($0.50/doz more than last month) (my yearly average is $0.14/egg or $1.68/dozen).  We collected 20 quail eggs for the month.  
Of course, I do not want to discourage any new chicken owners, just run out and get some chickens!!  If you only have a few it is not bad.  I am trying to get up to 50 laying hens, which is the maximum number for my coop size. Some people would say my coop needs to be a little larger for 50 chickens but that will give them 120 sq ft inside and the whole farm outside, so I figure they will be comfortable with that arrangement.  I am still considering getting another dozen chicks.  I had one today that was sick.  I had to isolate and contain that chick from the rest of the flock (farm talk for remove potential vector).  I have always started my baby chicks with one 50# bag of medicated feed.  When they finish that I switch to unmedicated feed and never give it to them again. This year when I bought chick feed I forgot to ask for medicated feed and they gave me plain chick feed.   I realized this before the chicks arrived but figured I would give it shot.  That is why I always clean out the coop before the chicks arrive.  Didn’t seem to work, this is the first time I have had a sick chick, it had some yellow goop all over one eye and the other almost covered up.  We found it laying on its side in the enclosure.  It was one of my Brahmas!!  I didn’t want it to be one of them.  So we went out and bought a 50# bag of medicated feed.  I will bleach out the feeder and waterer in the morning and start over with the new feed.  My adult chickens have never had any problems. 
 The sheep have started finding all the holes in the fence again this year.  We just decided to let them roam outside while we are home.  The fenced in portion of the pasture has some very short grass, while the rest is 8 inches high.