Sunday, November 20, 2011

Already ice rink weather

Over the past several months I’ve spent most of my blog post time whining and complaining about how much work we are doing on our house. Once again another Saturday found us going down to the place to spend another several hours hammering and nailing whatever boards are still loose.

Well, I only had Ringo with me on this trip as we left all the women folk back at Greybeard and Dancing queens as they decided –22.9 was just a little too cold for them. Before we got started on our project for the day we decided to scoot around the place to look at the river and pond. Much to our surprise we found water frozen solid in several locations.

Ringo was pretty timid at first and he waited until I went out to the middle and jumped up and down a few times before the ventured out on his own.  The whole event reminded me of a Thumper and Bambi interchange. “Look Ringo, it’s frozen stiff. Thump, thump, thump.”

Ringo may be small but he sure is wise beyond his years. Here he is strolling around the pond.

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I’ve spent the past 4 years building an ice rink in the back yard with forms and plastic. I’m super excited to find our pond frozen over already just waiting for a shoveling. The ice was smooth and slick (for a pond) and Ringo is already asking to get the hockey nets out.

tin on roof 002 I told Milly of our find and she all but threw me in the pond.

I think she is of the opinion that the ice is probably only an inch thick which is about as think as my skull. After taking a verbal beating for about an hour (OK, she only said “are you crazy?”), WE have decided to wait until after this week when it’s supposed to get up to +11c before we put the nets on the pond.tin on roof 004

Coming home we stumbled upon this view.

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And and even more impressive view of Dancing Queen and Polly zonked out on the couch. It’s hard to sit around the fire all day and read stories to the little ones. In Dancing Queens defense, I think she had about 10 grandchildren scampering around the house causing all kinds of havoc.

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I can hardly wait until next week when I can try the frozen pond again.

Now that the roof is almost on I’m starting to hope for freezing weather.

Anyone ready for an old fashioned skate on the pond besides me?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tin is mostly on the log house

We’ve had a stressful couple of weeks. Every waking minute we’ve had has gone into the covering of this roof. We’ve brought in quite a few recruits to help and one professional. It’s amazing how tough it is to put on tin on a 10/12 pitch roof. We had harnesses and a helicopter (I wish) to get everything just right.

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The tin goes on fairly quickly as you put it on in vertical strips. I actually did all the measuring and had our tin supplier do up the strips in precut lengths. It worked pretty slick.

We decided to sheet the roof and put purlins on but we decided against putting down tar paper underneath. Some have said you don’t need to sheet the place and just put purlins down. Others say sheet it and put tar paper down. One person said put purlins down then sheet it overtop then put water and ice membrane then tin. I’m not really sure what is the correct way to do this so I’m hoping we guessed right.

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We vacillate back and forth on many of the decisions we are making. We do a lot of research and ask several people what they think. The terrible part is if you ask 10 different people we’ve found there is 11 different opinions on how things should be done. This whole building thing is a guessing game really.

tin 006 We finished late last night with the tin. It was really an amazing day at the place. We had a full on blizzard pour through and I thought the place was going to fly away.

We sold some small square bales in the morning and the people who loaded them up left the tarp loose over the remaining hay. When the blizzard came through I thought for sure the ferocious wind was going to send the tarp to Kansas.

During the snow storm we stayed inside and cut all the pieces for the dormer. Just as we got done cutting the last piece the snow storm blew through and the wind stopped. We had just enough light to finish a good part of the dormer and we ended it off under the bright lights.

We woke up this morning to the below. It is also a brisk –20 c on the thermometer. We finished the roof just in the nick of time I suppose.

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It’s supposed to get up to +11 c next week so hopefully I’ll have enough working time to put on ridge cap and close up the gables and eaves. Just  a few days longer and this place will weather proof for winter. (We’re hoping)

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Moving a grain bin with homemade skids

Since the wind was blowing 100 KM an hour and with snow on the horizon we decided it was time to find shelter for Rosebud. We started out the day trying to apply tin to our roof but grudgingly we shifted plans since a few of the the metal sheets almost decapitated the horse in the pasture a mile to the east of us.

Grey Beard went down to the river bottom and chopped down a couple of trees. Can you believe an 82 year old is still tromping around the woods cutting trees down? I hope I’m that spry when I get to that rip old age.

metal roof 031 We drilled out a hole in each tree and put metal bars through the holes. After doing that we chained them to the truck and dragged them to the grain bin in question.metal roof 033

I’m glad we don’t live in the city as we may have caused quite a few accidents as we dragged these through town. We actually dragged these 3 miles and didn’t pass a soul on the way to the grain bin.

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After jacking up the old grain bin we dragged the homemade skids under the bin.

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Anyone remember the last time we used these jacks? A brownie and a cookie if anyone can remember our teetering, harrowing efforts.

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These are Grey Beards jacks. I need to get some for myself so I can go around jacking up old grain bins whenever I want.

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We tried grain bin dollies but they were too small for this beast. I’m glad the plan that finally worked didn’t end up with me squished at the bottom of a grain bin in the middle of the road.

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I would guess this grain bin is 50 years old. I hear these were quite popular in the early 1950’s.

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It may look like a small bin but it’s 16 feet wide and probably 12 feet tall.

metal roof 038 We started moving the bin in the mid afternoon and it took us until dark to get it underway.

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Here is a funny sequence of events. Our first attempt at pulling the grain bin with the truck.

We gave up with the truck and got Uncle Earl to get out the old tractor.

Here we go down to our temporary pasture with the old bin.

A neighbor called Dancing Queen today and mentioned she saw us moving an enormous structure down the road in the middle of the night yesterday. I guess we didn’t manage to go entirely unnoticed during our whole trip.

We cut open a door on the bin today and will bed it out for Rosebud tomorrow or the next day.

I’m thinking of painting the bin a nice and bright yellow or red and scrolling the word Rosebud over the door.

Maybe I’ll put all the extra roughed up and mangled tin on the top of the grain bin as long as I can find it in that horse pasture 3 miles east of the house.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How to install metal roofing in 100 KM high winds

We were all ready to get the tin on our roof this weekend and the day started out just right. We got a few panels of tin on and then the wind started to howl. We checked the weather and the wind was supposed to gust up to 100 KM in the afternoon.

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Do you think we can move in with a quarter of the roof on?

metal roof 036 Stinking wind.

How do you install metal roofing in 100 KM winds? You don’t. We shut down the operation and are hoping tomorrow will be better even though this is what I see for the forecast:



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicken burial

Had a sad experience on our little farm today. Milly banged on my office window after she went out to take care of the cow and chickens.

I was pretty sure something was up when I saw big crocodile tears rolling down her face. I miss most hints and signs unless I’m told outright what the interested party wants me to do but when Milly’s crying I am usually right that something is amiss.

It turned out one of the chickens was having a hard time. OK, it wasn’t just any chicken. We called it silver chicken as it was one of the prettiest chickens we had. I can’t really tell you what kind it was only that compared to the rest of our ugly, haggard chickens this was a nice looking one.

“Silver chicken is dead” was all she could sputter out.

I went out to take care of the carcass but when I reached down the poor little thing was still alive and suffering. I nonchalantly went and got my gun and came back and disposed of the pretty little critter.

I wish we were more capable at fixing up animals. All I could think of was to stop the suffering.

Too bad it had to be the pretty one instead of the ragged old bitty that keeps pecking on everyone else. I guess that’s how it goes. The tuff old birds seem to last the longest.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to make an oil lamp

This is a special entry from Lucy, a guest blogger and all around nifty person. I’m not that crafty but this looks pretty easy to do.



This year I am going to give this to my family this year as my Christmas Emergency Preparedness Gift. I am planning to give them a bottle of Olive Oil and a couple of bottles with the wick and wire already to go. I will also include some extra wick and the instructions. I have laminated the little tags to go on the lamps or on the bottle of Olive Oil. I am also going to include a lighter or matches. I am looking for something to put it in that would make a permanent storage container, so far I just have a Christmas Gift Bag. My idea is that it is something you could keep in your storage room with everything together that you could use in an emergency.

I attached the instructions to make the lamps and also the sheet with the tags to put on the lamps if you are giving them as a gift. I folded the tags and laminated them so there is writing on both sides of the tag.
I would not put any Olive Oil into the lamps until you are going to use them. The Olive Oil will go rancid in the small bottles, but will keep better sealed in the bottle you buy it in. I found the 750 ml bottles of Olive Oil at Extra Foods for $3.50, but I think they were priced wrong as the next time I went they were double that. I am giving the bottle of Olive Oil with the gift, but I hope that who ever is getting the gift will rotate the oil and always keep an extra bottle on hand. However you can burn rancid oil, so it is also a way to use Olive Oil that has gone rancid.
A quart size bottle doesn't get as hot when you have the lamp lighted, but it takes more Olive Oil. The smaller pint bottle gets too hot to hold onto when you have it burning for several hours, but doesn't take much Olive Oil. I would always place the bottle on a plate or shallow dish for safety. You can also use the bottles that have a handle, but they are expensive to buy new and this is suppose to be a frugal project. You could give the gift with just an empty bottle, the wick holder and the wick with a tag on the bottle and have the people use Olive Oil that they already have. I tried Canola Oil in one of the bottles, but it smelled like I was deep frying in my house. It did work and you could use it for an emergency. I also bought some glass containers from a dollar store that I used and might use for Christmas, but I am worried that they are not tempered glass (Like a canning jar is) and that they might break when heated and used repeatedly. Another thing I tried was glass cups that come with a Punch Bowel. I bought them for .25 at the second hand store. They work well and don't take much Olive Oil because they are small. I would still keep it on a plate or small bowel for safety. I prefer being able to put a lid on the glass canning jar when it is not lit so that the oil can't spill.
When experimenting two tablespoons of Olive Oil burned for five hours, and I didn't have to adjust the wick. However the next time you go to light it you need to adjust the wick. I cut up an old white 100% cotton t-shirt for the wick. For this experiment I use a glass punch cup, so two tablespoons of oil was all I needed as the bottom is small and narrow.
After seeing how to do this I hope that if you are ever caught in an emergency (and not in your own home) you would be able to put one of these lamps together with what you could find in most homes. You could even use a paper clip as wire to hold the wick, and I experimented and a heavy paper towel also worked for the wick. You could burn any oil you had on hand, however it might smell, Olive Oil is the preferred Oil to burn.
Making these lamps also reminds me of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13). May you always be found with oil in your lamps, prepared for whatever lies ahead.

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Let me know what you think about the guest blogger idea or if you have something you think would add to The Simple Farm. I like having more posting contributors. It saves everyone from having to trudge through my silly meanderings all the time.

Getting there

The place is coming together. The shell is almost complete and we’ll start to put on the tin this Thursday. We are now hoping for the wind to stop and the weather to hold for just a few more days.

Do you notice anything different on this picture?


If you spotted the chimney you should get yourself a cookie.

We are now looking for a fire place to under that chimney. We plan on getting a masonry stove before next winter but need something to tie us over until then.

IMG_8053 I was up on the roof taking measurements for the tin. I’ve done a lot of asphalt shingles and even some cedar shakes but have never done tin before. It is amazingly complicated to measure exactly what you need so the tin people can send exactly the right parts and pieces to minimize all the cutting involved.

We thought we had a simple roof but it’s amazing how a dormer and overhanging porch tying into the roof will totally mess up everything.


I don’t suppose tin is that hard. At least I figure it can’t be that hard. Put a few purloins (not sure of that spelling. Auto correct did that so if it’s wrong blame Bill Gates) up and screw down right?


In the past couple of days we got the sheeting on the East gable and finished the porch roof. I think I did it right. Whenever anyone asks us why we built the place this way we usually say that we did it according to our plan. Which as you know is non existent really. ha.


So tin, electrical, plumbing, windows, concrete pad and then we are in for winter. Oh, and a fire place.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saving Radish Seeds

For the past few years I’ve had a big interest in saving seeds from our garden. I love the idea of saving seeds from plants that have thrived in the area they are planted. The idea is if seeds are propagated over time in one specific area the plants will develop to be perfectly suited for your local growing conditions.

The first seeds we are trying this routine out on is the feisty radish. Radishes grow quickly and seem to be relatively easy to harvest the seeds.

Here is the process.

We started with heirloom radish seeds. I'm told they have to be heirloom seeds or the seeds won’t germinate.

We let the radishes bolt or grow those funny little pods below. Just before the snow came we picked the batch below from our radish spot. porch 036

The radish pods have to dry so we left them for a couple of months. when we picked the pods they were dry and brittle.

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Greybeard taught us how to thresh. We basically crushed all the pods into a metal bucket.

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After the pods were crushed, Greybeard blew a bit to get rid of all the chaff. We tried it out in the wind but it seemed to work better for us with the hot air spewing out below.

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We ended up with a good amount of seeds ready for next year. I’m thinking about trying the seeds out in our window sill. We should be able to see if this little experiment works. Then we’ll move onto bigger and better things to harvest seeds from.

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Anyone else have any luck saving seeds?