Another automatic chicken door.

Outside of coop before installing new chicken door.
Inside of coop, old chicken butler that needs to be removed.

I just love the concept of an automatic chicken door.  I cannot imagine anyone who has lost chickens to predators not wanting one.  My first one was a bust, the chicken butler, I installed two of them and they both were too finicky and broke.  It was either the chickens, the design, the predators or my teenager daughter that caused the butler to fail so quickly.  Either way, not designed correctly.  I happened across an add in craigslist of a gentleman who builds his own in Portland.  I contacted his wife and she packaged and mailed me one.  Only cost me $110, less than 50% of what I paid for the chicken butler.  I just got it in the mail yesterday, so it was installation time.  We had fallen back into our wonton ways and were not locking up the chickens at night.  Its dark out there!  Hence the need for a new automatic door.  I had not done a head count in a month either and our egg production was slipping so I feared the worse (another predator).  Sarah and I went out to survey the requirements needed for installation.

When installing our chicken butler I had to make a frame for it to be mounted against.  This needed to be torn off.  But after looking at the new door it needs to be attached directly to the outer wall.  I have insulated walls and old paneling on the walls.  Which means cutting a much larger hole to accommodate the new chicken door.  The new door doesn’t have a name.  Any good product needs a distinctive name, I have decided to name it the “POULTRY PROTECTOR”!  The Poultry Protector has a built in light sensor that needs to see the daylight.  Once I cut away everything inside the coop I will need to drill a hole to the outside so the eye can get some light.

Inside of coop with Poultry Protector installed.

I just used my zip it to cut the paneling.  It is not a precision tool, but hey, at this point it is just the coop.  It needs to work but doesn’t have to be perfect.  It took a couple of tries to get the right height.  My old opening was framed, but the Poultry Protector was a little too snug, that problem was corrected with the judicious use of a hammer.  Once the door was installed I had to adjust it so it opened.  I kept screwing with the adjusting knob to get the sensitivity right and blew the fuse (already a better product, it has a fuse!).  I changed the fuse and it worked fine.  The opening is slightly smaller.  My only improvement  for this product is to have it not touch the base plate.  I would have the base plate come up against the back of the door so if mud or poop built up it could not keep the door from closing.

Outside, hole for sensor, smaller opening.

The use of a piece of threadall means you have positive closing and opening and the rope doesn’t pinch itself and cease to function. 

We have two hens that are brooding.  I checked both of them yesterday.  One was sitting on four eggs and the other had no eggs.  So I gave the no egg hen six eggs.  We are going to let them try and hatch the eggs.  We will have to clean out the chick area in the next 25 days just in case they actually manage to hatch some babies.  I also counted hens, there are still 27 hens and one rooster.  My light had burned out in the coop so I changed the bulb.  More eggs should be coming directly.  I will do my monthly egg reports tomorrow.  I only used 100# of food last month.  If I can keep the feed usage down the chickens may actually pay for themselves this year.   I am going to start in on the barn today.  I will be sure and get some before pictures. 

Fire is supposed to be your friend

It has rained and snowed for the last three days.  I was sure it was safe to burn weeds, not only that but the back creek is starting to raise from all the moisture and the weeds are clogging it up.  So I fixed the burner and started burning.  It went great.  Cleaned out the back creek, raised both fences so the water can go under the fence and not through.  Then I went up to the spring head and burned the weeds.  When I left there I noticed a little smoke coming from one of the dead upright trees.  The tree in question stands 16 feet in the air and is three feet in diameter.  I cruised on down to the driveway to start burning weeds out of the fence line.  After two sections I look back and notice some of the fire going into the CRP.  I go down and stomp it out.  I burn three more small sections and look back.  Fire, lots of fire.  It takes me about 30 minutes to stomp it all out and I had to stop a few times to let my boots and blue jeans cool off.  I decided then that it needs to be actively raining now before I can burn.  After my shower I could still smell smoke, but attributed it to residue in my sinuses.  The dog just asked to be let out.  There is a 16 foot tree on fire!!  The whole stump is burning from the inside out.  Luckily there is nothing over there but that tree.  Fire is supposed to be my friend.  It just is not turning out that way this year.

New toilet finally.

New toilet installed!  Only sat in the shed for 4 years…

I received a very angry call at work on Monday.  The old toilet was overflowing and the water float was not turning off the water so it was continuing to overflow.  Sarah shut off the supply valve and then plunged the toilet back into functioning status.  Needless to say the toilet jumped to the top of the priority list.  Actually, it was handed down that NO other job could be done until the toilet was changed out.  I managed to get it installed with only two trips to the hardware store.  One for a new hose (I had two different length ones already but both had the wrong size fitting on one end) and the other for clear and white silicone.  Which is no longer called caulk it is now silicone adhesive.  It really isn’t used for its adhesive properties, at least I don’t use it for that reason, but that is how it is being marketed.  I had to read three different labels checking to see if they added anything to the silicone.  I will finish caulking the base today.  I started it then realized I had better let the toilet get used for a day or so before finishing up the caulking job.  No leaks now, I had one at the supply valve and had to tighten the packing. This toilet is marginally taller than the old one (it had been dated 1988 on the inside of the tank lid, probably by Annmarie’s grandfather). 

I called around yesterday pricing lumber for the barn.  Found a great deal at Blue Mountain lumber in Reith, OR.  They had some 1×12 inch x 16 ft boards that had been sitting outside and had gotten weathered.  They had almost 3000 bf (a board ft, bf, is 1 inch thick lumber x12 inches wide) or in this case 3000 lf (lineal feet, actual total length of the boards).  I only wanted 2000bf, but the price was so good I opted for 2500bf.  They called back and just threw in the last 500bf to get rid of it for the same price.  The final price was $1000 for 3000bf or $0.30bf or $4.80 for a single 16 foot board.  The weathering won’t hurt the boards at all since they are going to go on the outside of the barn any ways.  I also got a great deal on some 2×6 tongue and groove rejects.  They were milled incorrectly and the visible “V” cut is chattered.  I can just turn them upside down and use the square side.  I need to measure the barn floor to see how many of these I need.  If I take random lengths the price stays low.  So of course I am going to do that.  I am only using them for flooring in the barn, they don’t need to be beautiful, just sound.  Now if I only had my trailer…

Second day of spring.

 It snowed last night.  We woke up to a white second day of spring.  School was not cancelled.  Surprisingly, some of the chickens were out wandering around in the snow.  They usually stay indoors.  Hopefully, the non scared chickens can teach the scared ones to come out of the coop next winter.

Second day of spring.

Seeds started

We did it and got all our seeds planted on the breeze porch greenhouse.  Also managed to replant all the cactus that we started from seed two years ago, about 12 plants now in their own containers.  I also started some lavender from seeds.  I started those in the peat plugs like the creeping thyme.  I have over 100 plugs with seeds in them, we shall see how many I can sprout and then subsequently keep alive.  I want to grow the lavender inside this year then plant it next year, but it will depend on how fast the stuff grows and how big it gets.  We want to stick it in clumps on our driveway side hill.  I didn’t get to plant the asparagus starts yet, the seeds have to soak for 24-48 hours before you plant them.  Next week I will try and get those in some dirt. 

Moving along slowly

.243 brass drying after getting washed.

Sarah and I have started getting ready to reload some 243 ammo.  I tumbled all that my dad had on hand and we washed it yesterday.  Sarah told me I should be able to balance it on a paper towel, but I could not get them all to stay upright. Now mind you, she has been reloading pistol rounds and they are a lot wider at the opening than 243 rounds. I had to come up with some way to hold them upright so the inside could dry.  It dawned on me that Annmarie’s cookie wrack has a nice grid like top and it turned out perfect. 

I am trying to get the upstairs bedroom floor completed but all these other little jobs are distracting me.  We are having toilet issues again so a new toilet install has started to rear its ugly head.  Never mind that I have all the parts and new toilet, I am just not ready to install the new toilet.  Haven’t really been ready for last four years!! 

Upstairs bedroom, 80 grit sanding done in middle, need to do edges near wall with hand sander.

The upstairs bedroom picture was taken from the inside of the furnace closet.  I need to hand sand the edges with 50 grit then 80 grit then 120 grit.  Once that is done then I will sand the middle of the floor with 120 grit on my belt sander and I will be done sanding.  For a super smooth finish you should go up to at least 200 if not 400 grit, but I am going for the rustic look so 120 is fine.  After the sanding is done, I vacuum really well, wash the walls, and ceiling then the floor.  Once everything is clean and dust free I will stain the floor, let it dry for a day then apply two coats of lacquer to harden the floor and keep the stain from rubbing off as easily. 

Free grape plants

My grape plants have taken off.   I read about starting plants from the vines that are cut off in the winter.  A friend of mine at work, mike, kept some vines for me and I drug them home in the back of the Prius.  A couple of weeks later I trimmed them all up and planted them in some potting soil.  I drilled some holes in the bottom of the top bucket and placed it inside of another bucket.  Soaked the dirt down, placed in medium temperature room with lots of sun and viola!  Live grape plants for free!  I would like to plant three different varieties.  So I am going to only use up 1/3 of my available planting area with this variety. 

Sarah and I are going to try to plant our garden starts this year.  Seeds are expensive, but the starts are outrageous.  So I am going to use the little green house we started the creeping thyme in last year.  Hopefully, we will have better than 10% survival rate.  Today we plant all the seeds. 

Winter or Spring, make up your mind

Mother nature cannot decide whether it should be spring or stay winter.  We had snow this morning, and yesterday the wind was gusting over 50 mph.  One of those gusts blew the front screen door into our porch pillars, denting a section of it.  Truly, if it is not one thing it is another.  I managed to wrestle the screen door into the old house without breaking anything.  The wind managed to break the window out of the back door on the old house.  So now I need to level the old house so I can fix the door then fix the window.  My duct tape fix did not hold the glass in against 50 mph winds, go figure. 

We had another lamb born on March 7, ewe #1 gave birth to a single baby boy.  So now we have two young babies and two very protective mothers.  Zeke and I went out last night to herd the sheep into the barn and the two mommas did not want to move.  The closed ranks and faced Zeke down.  He could not get them to move.  Plus the idiot keeps circling around them and trying to push them away from the gate we are trying to go through.  One time the lead ewe got mad and chased him down and rolled him a couple more times.  He jumped back up and I sicced him on her, he grabbed her by the hair on her shoulder and hung on for 30 feet before I called him off.  The sheep still would not move after that.  I had to help the dog and he was a little gun shy about facing off against them.  We did eventually get the sheep into the barn.  He is getting much better, but our sheep do not want to cooperate. 

Zeke is outside today running around the yard.  He just will not stay inside, rings the bell until someone lets him out.  This morning he ran down to my mother-in-law’s house and chased her cats around.  I have been keeping an eye on him since. 

We have decided to purchase a flat bed trailer.  We can haul lumber, hay and sheep (after I build some racks) using our pickup.  I only wanted to spend $1200 for a dual axle, electric brakes, lights, wood decked, stake pockets trailer.  I have just spent three hours on the internet and calling 12 different places, average price $2500.  I found one place that uses tubular steel frame and I can dictate the number of stake pockets.  They will custom paint it and delivered to Hood River, OR for $2000.  We are going to go with them. 

I did get lucky and win a unit of 2×8 x10feet boards at a fundraiser for $200.  This is going to constitute a large portion of the new floor in the barn.  Great deal, just need a trailer now to pick them up.  The water leak from the frozen pipe is getting worse.  So this weekend I need to change out the faucet.  We are starting to get a small swamp in back yard. 

Lamb given away

I went out 1.5 hours later (I set an alarm) to check on the baby boy and he was truly rejected.  I found him five feet away from the ewe buried in the straw trying to stay warm.  The other lamb, boy, was curled up at his mother’s feet.  I gave him a little warmed formula which caused him to perk up some, but not very much.  So I wrapped him up in a hand towel and took him down to Tish.  She will hand feed him and take care of him.  She took our last bummer lamb.  Otherwise, I don’t know that he would have survived the night.  I think it would have gotten too cold for him.  I forgot to check the ewe’s ear tag so I could write it down.  Will do that tonight so I can put a red check mark after her name on the spreadsheet.