Sunday, April 13, 2014

Burning down the shed

If you go way back into the Simple Farm archives you might remember this description of when I almost squashed Grey Beard with an old, unwanted, dilapidated, chicken coop.

[coop%2520010%255B4%255D.jpg]This was the first structure on our little farm and it’s been a dumping spot for tools, gas cans, hoses, lawn mowers, etc. Chickens have sensed their ancestral roots and have roosted and played in the old building. Milly has been very disgusted with how shabby our place looks with all these old buildings plopped around the land and she decided the barn yard looks too much like a barn yard for her liking. This is an old picture. It looked even older when we started to think it was time to supply a burnt offering to the heavens. I like to look at the green grass. We are only a few months away from that time of year again.

She even called the fire marshal and got a burning permit so I didn’t have any more excuses to putting off the blaze.


The smoke was billowing and everyone came bounding out from all over to watch the scene.


This building must have been standing for at least 100 years and it took an hour to end its life.



Ringo decided to build snow caves while watching the meltdown. I’d guess not many city kids get to experience burning down a building. It’s quite fascinating if you like fire.

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I said everyone came out to watch. Basically that meant all the animals participated. Poor Tinka didn’t know what was going on. She looks a little sad that her play house is gone don’t you think?


This is all that’s left of the old feller. A pile of rusty nails and ashes.


At least the tulips are blooming. This is inside the house of course. Real tulips are still a month off or so but I thought I’d spread some joy on the day.  018020I guess the reason I wanted to put flowers in this post is because they make funerals more bearable.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It’s been that type of winter

It’s been a while and I don’t really have any big excuses for not updating our fan base other than priorities sometimes get mixed and I get side tracked shoveling out our 900 foot driveway because of the many snow storms we’ve had this winter.

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I’m not sure how much it’s snowed this winter but it’s been a lot.

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Which means lots of drifting and chances for snow tunnels.march 2014 134

Some days we’ve just hunkered down and made soap.march 2014 281And sour dough bread.

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The sun has come out occasionally and we’ve done the normal farmer type stuff. I won’t expound on what that means but this might give you an idea.march 2014 041

We are hoping most of the –40 degree weather is behind us. The grey water system has worked wonderfully for the second straight year in a row.

It’s worked so well that everyone on our happy farm think if only the whole world would try grey water it would bring an end to hunger,war and conflict, and bring peace to all living animals. Check out what it has done for some of our farm friends.

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There is still snow on the ground and we still see our breath most days but judging by the sun there is an end of winter shortly around the corner.

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We just have to make it a few more….months?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My personality

The company I currently work for makes all of their potential employees take a test that helps them determine whether or not the person would be a good match for the company. Nine years ago when I started with the company I somehow snuck past this requirement and simply started working. After several years of being told I needed to take this test I finally did last week. I was sent results with a question of whether I took this test or if Milly helped me answer the questions.

Now before you know the results I should probably say that if I was taking this test before I actually had a job I’d probably answer the questions quite differently. That is to say I answered the questions as honest as I could which exposes all my faults and weaknesses which I know would have put me on the unemployment ranks.

I’m not sure what Ego-strength is but I’m surprised I scored so low on it – I mean only 99%? ha. I shared the results of my test with one of my coworkers that sees all of the tests of potential employees. His comment was “I’ve never seen an ego-strength so high”.

Milly questioned me over and over again about how I scored so high on abstract reasoning (94%) although she totally got the thoroughness score (4%). She also laughed at the aggressiveness and assertiveness scores. For some reason Milly thinks I’m passive aggressive and this seems to have confirmed her suspicions.

My boss hasn’t commented on this test yet. I’m waiting to be fired any day now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Milly milking the cow

Utah trip 023I want everyone to know I love my cows  and I’m pretty sure if there isn’t a reciprocal feeling there is at least a modest amount of familiarity to our relationship in that I’m missed when I don’t do the regular chores.

For example, while I was away on business all last week Milly had to do all the chores and Rosebud and Ranger missed me dearly. On my way home while I was being fully “Pat Down” by airport security (my contact eye solution tested positive for something dire. At least they said it turned the little stick thing semi blue so they had to treat me will full precaution) I receive the follow set of text messages from Milly:

In the battle for The Milk, the calf nearly knocked me over, the cow kicked the bucket over, the calf managed to tear the entire rope attachment assembly board off the wall, the kitten got into the milk pail, the calf mounted the cow twice, the cow was moved to a nearby fence post for reattachment, and then refused to give any milk. Net result? Half a gallon of creamy white fresh milk. Please come home soon!!!


I kid you not. That was word for word from my beloved wife.

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the text which wasn’t necessarily the expected response from the guy patting me down in such a thorough manner. The rest of the security breach was spent with me smiling and giggling. Not sure that’s the normal way to act during such a procedure but they started it and I couldn’t help myself.

I think Milly has at least a mild amount of love and affection for me. (does missing me because she has to do all the chore lessen the above sentiment?) Not at all. I’m glad I’m good for something and Rosebud all but cried when I showed up in the morning for the regular duties.

I still haven’t attached the rope attachment assembly. I laugh every time I go out to the cow shed and see it hanging off the shed roof and think of the text message and the poor confused TSA agent. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Update from the farm

The busy time of year is coming fast to a close. When the weather starts to look like this it’s time for us to hunker down for the winter that is soon to be upon us. Of course yesterday it was plus 20 Celsius so this sudden cold snap may only be a test run and we could be still playing baseball by Wednesday.

-17 tomorrow morning, really? I think I’ll be lazy and leave the calf out to do the milking.


I should probably be nice to Ranger since we did the deed to him finally.

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We had some friends come visit us from Australia and I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce them to farm life other than taking care of a castration.

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Up close and personal.

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I found a new favorite hat. It’s a little ripped up on the brim but I guess that’s to be expected since a chainsaw kicked back and hit me on the head.

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It hit pretty hard but only left a small mark. Thank goodness I like good hats with thick brims.

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I’ve said before that I’m not a farmer but I think the above picture shows the contrary. We harvested about 175 lbs of potatoes and 75 lbs of carrots.

At least my hat is nice.

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The kids have been a big help this year with our dehydrating. We’ve dehydrated apples, beets, pears, lots of herbs, zucchini, etc.

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Here’s a nice picture of something Milly manufactured. Any guesses what it is? A free steak dinner to the first one that guesses correctly.

Answer to come in the next post.

Hopefully it won’t be another 3 months before I get to the answer. If the weather continues as indicated I’ll have a lot of time to sit by the fire and write random blog posts about the silly happenings of life on the farm.

I hope it stay –17 for 6 months.

Monday, September 30, 2013

House made out of sticks

I’m not sure I’m feeling the best about our decision to build a log house. Maybe we should have built it out of bricks.

imageFall is the time for large gusts of wind in our area and often houses are blown down or roofs lifted off their moorings. Our power is currently off so am writing from the dregs of battery life until electricity is returned. If you never hear from me again it’s probably because we’ve shunned all power and modern technology and have gone off grid.

I’m tempted. Milly thinks we need just a wee bit of money to pay for our farming habits. I’m quite certain we could survive. I’d like to try it at least.

Anyone else feel like they could survive without electricity?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Chicken tractor

Just thought I’d show the finished chicken tractor. I started off with the idea of slapping a few pieces of plywood together on top of a tent trailer base and somehow ended up with the complicated work of art shown below.

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You can see the fancy nest boxes we can access from the outside. It’s really nice to collect eggs without having to tromp into the coop and upsetting the ladies.

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The front side of the coop lifts up so we can clean out the woodchips from the outside.

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We have over 30 chickens and I was worried the above roost wouldn’t be enough to fit everyone. It’s surprising how many chickens can fit in one small space. They all seem to cozy up together to keep warm and we could probably fit another 20 chickens if we had to.

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We put quarter inch hardware cloth on the top of each side for air flow. This mobile chicken tractor won’t be used in the winter but it’s perfect for spring, summer, and fall.

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We somehow corralled all hens and drove the tractor down in the trees next to the cows. It’s really nice to have the chickens around the cows as they spend all day scratching up cow pies.

It only took three weeks to complete but it’s been very useful so far this year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tung oil application to logs

Milly did a lot of research last year on what kind of stain to use on our logs. After much debate and agony she decided on Tung oil. It’s supposed to be less toxic than other alternatives although the Citrus Solvent (which I like sniffing out of the bottle as it smells like oranges) is supposed to cause deformities, blurry vision, extra hair growth on the end of noses and on top of ears, and bad fashion sense.

We bought in bulk last year and dozens of these bottles have been sitting around waiting for us to stop being lazy.

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You can see the Tung oil looks like it’s shrinking. I’m not sure if it’s evaporating but it seems fine even after sitting for about a year.

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We mix roughly 1 part Tung oil to 1 part Citrus solvent. You can do more or less but that was how we started and I haven’t deviated. Seems to work fine.

The thing with Tung oil is it takes a long time to apply and about a month to really cure. After apply a coat of oil you wait for about forty five minutes to an hour then reapply. For the floors and railing in our house we applied about five coats of oil then wiped them with old T-shirt I have accumulated from business conferences. Milly was gleeful when she pulled out all my old pink, orange, and advertising labeled wardrobe to use for this duty.

It has been about a month for our loft floors and they are finally looking like we can walk on them on a regular basis. We did the same thing to the stairs last year and found it was a month before they felt like they were cured and have found the same with the floors.

Here are some pictures of the process. One of the pictures shows the difference of before and after Tung oil really well. I ended applying the oil just after the corner of a wall and you can see the distinct line of sanded log to oiled log.

We applied oil to the cedar ceiling in one of the upstairs bedrooms and it turned out like below.

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Some people like our kids like the look. Milly and I think it’s too dark so we are going to skip applying it to the ceiling in our main area. It was really good news for me so I don’t have to apply it to 1000 square feet of cedar while hanging from a scaffolding.

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Here is the finished floor in the loft. We applied two inch milled, planned and shaped Douglas Fir planking in the loft. It was supposed to be dry but you can see by the gapping it wasn’t. I tell people that is the look we were going for. You know the “olden time planking look”. Really its just because we (OK, I) didn’t want to wait the required time of acclimating wood to the house. 

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Here’s a picture of the railing that’s done. I sanded and stained for a whole week while Milly and the kids were at a family reunion this summer. During that time I questioned my sanity about this whole house building, sacrificing now so we don’t have to go into debt lifestyle. If you ask me now if it was worth it I’d probably say no. In ten years when the house finally gets finished I’ll let you know if I change my mind.

We still need to mud and tape the walls and finish them with Clay plaster. I’m not looking forward to that job. Maybe I’ll cheat and get the folks from to come and help out.

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Obviously Ringo has been sniffing the Citrus solvent too much as you can tell by his fashion sense.

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We have kept these cuties away from any toxic fumes as you can tell.

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I think Grey Beard has been sneaking a whiff of the solvent as well.

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OK, the cuties did sneak in the house and look what happened to them.

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Notice the glazed look on my face and the appearance of facial hair. I just shaved my head and face that morning.

Any of you bald guys should really try applying Citrus solvent. I have several bottles still to apply if any of you are interested in learning how to apply Tung oil or growing facial hair.