Monday, February 25, 2013


We picked up our four American Guinea hogs on Saturday. And built them a pretty nice run-in shed.

When we went to check on them before bedtime, they were all snuggled up together, buried in the hay. Today when I got home, they were all hanging around near the feed bin. So I took some feed out to them but they all skeedaddled when they saw me.

Tomorrow I have to expand the brooder box. I'm going to make it the size of the screen I found to serve as a cover.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Kitchen Renovations

To say the kitchen in the farm house was crappy when we moved in in an understatement. The faucet was leaking and it had been for such a long time, that the laminate counter top was crumbling apart in places. The sink was okay but nothing special and there is insufficient storage for all the kitchen equipment and gadgets I own.

First thing to do was buy some shelving. We got two chrome storage shelves from Lowes that hold about 350 pounds per shelf. I ordered a stainless steel prep table from a restaurant supply store to use as my island. This week, we removed the old counter and sink and put in new.
This is the before sink. You can see the chips along the edges of the counter where the dishwasher is. The counter is an odd dark green with a stainless sink.

This is underneath the counter. I put 1x3 pine boards along the front and back edges for extra support for the cast iron sink AND it puts the counter a little higher for me. I'm 5'11"; better fit. I added cross braces from front to back as additional support. The sink is REALLY HEAVY!
 This is the sink template. Was a pretty easy cut with a jig saw.

Sink hole cut out; was very proud of myself because I didn't have to make any adjustments to the cut. I did however have to trim the pine board supports underneath it along the front edge.

Counter, sink, and faucet in place. No leaks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Grey day...

Not sure why I got to wake up with a headache this morning. Was in bed before 11 last night; may have been the fergocking dog barking at 5:30 this morning that helped it along. What was Barney thinking? That's an hour earlier than I needed to be up.


So the good mood spread all over this morning and James was a sandy butthole. Complains he doesn't want to go to school and then when I explained that he only had to go to school for three days this week, he complained about that too! LOL can't win with this kid sometimes. The reason he only has a three-day week? Because of his behaviors last week, he's not allowed to go on the field trip on Friday so instead, I'm keeping him home and we'll go by ourselves and wave to his classmates as we pass them in the halls.

It's crappy and overcast, grey and not very pleasant out there this morning. I need to get to the dump (blech) and to the hardware store. I have to pick up a few 2x4s this morning so we can install the cast iron sink. I'm fairly certain that the counter, being brand new, would hold up the weight of the sink, but I'm also a little doubtful so I want to shore up the counter with a little support system of 2x4s. Then tomorrow, when it's supposed to be nicer outside, we need to clear out the pigpen and build a little shed for the hogs. The Amercian Guinea hogs (four of them - two females/two barrows) will be coming here over the weekend.

Harrison has been working on the label for the pickles. Andrew wants in on the act too so his dad has him working on a graphic for something else.

It was so quiet in here a little while ago, I was worried about the chicks. Turned out they were all just chilling out but it's funny how used to a sound you get and when it's gone, it's odd. It'll be weird to NOT have the chicks in the house once they get bigger. Right now, they are almost 3 weeks old, are getting tail feathers and combs, and are trying to fly out of the box still! LOL I did find a window screen that I can use to cover the brooder box. That way, they'll get the warmth from the heat lamp and air but won't be able to escape.


Monday, February 11, 2013

American Guinea Hogs

Originally we planned on getting two female American Guinea hogs so we can breed them and use their offspring for meat. But that plan wasn't going to work for about a year or so since we're getting 4-6 week old piglets. New plan is to get two castrated males along with the girls so A) everyone is a little happier moving in a larger group; and B) we can eat the boys come fall. :-)

Girls will be named Martha and Abigail (after the first two First Ladies) and the boys will be named Bacon and Banaster (it's an American revolution name reference from my husband).

When I put the deposit down, I thought I'd have more time to get ready! Initially they were to be weaned and ready for their new homes the first week of March but now it looks as though they'll be ready sooner. And thus we must be ready sooner as well. We have the fenced in section, we just need to go over the ground with fine-toothed comb to ensure there's nothing that can harm the piglets in that space. I need to cover the gate with some hardware cloth so they can't escape through the bars, and I have to build a shelter. We have enough scraps lying around that we can build a pretty nice little run in shed. I'll get that started this week.

Still have to place my order for the lumber to build the chicken coop and I swear the chicks are twice as big as they were only one week ago. They are flapping their little wings and running across their little box brooder. I think I'll be adding some length onto that and moving it to a more spacious location in my office :-) I say "office" like I have an actual office; in reality what I have is an old kitchen table sitting in the corner of the breakfast nook. I get lots of natural light and a beautiful view of my back "yard."

I have the lumber list written up based on using 2x4's for the floor; but I think I'm going to adjust that and use 2x6s for the floor for additional strength. I'll be going in and out and I want to make sure I don't fall through the floor. LOL

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chickens and Coops

Well we had one chick die this morning. It was a runt and hadn't been doing well. Unfortunately, it was Catherine's.

I wasn't going to say anything to her but I realized we're farm girls now and have to put our big girl panties on and face the death of a farm animal

Catherine cried a little bit. But I explained that we talked about how small it was and that sometimes it's better that an animal who is sickly or not doing well die rather can continue to live a not-so-good life. She understood...and then picked out another chick which we dotted with a brown spot on its head.

It might be the first death but it won't be the last.

RIP Chicketti.

The remaining 30 chicks are doing very well. The whole "pasty-butt" thing is an on-going hygiene issue. Anyone who's got dried matter on its backside is picked up and sponged off.

There's lots of hand washing going on here.

The kids love picking up the chicks and talking to them. The rule is to wash hands before and after. We don't want to give the chicks any funky germs and vice versa. I do want the kids to be comfortable with handling the chickens at the various stages of their development and I want the chickens to get acclimated to being handled.

I've drawn up plans for the chicken coop. I think it's going to turn out well. It's basically a box with a pent roof so I don't have to deal with gables and too many wood cuts. I've got a door on site that I can reuse as well as a few windows to let in light. We'll add some vents up near the roof line to help with circulation. The coop will be situation on cinder blocks up off the ground and I'll probably have to shore up the underside with some 1/2 x 1/2 inch hardware cloth to keep out all sizes of predators.

I've decided that the coop will be situated near the garden so that the chickens can help with bug control. I realize that there are some sections of the garden that I'll have to protect with chicken wire or other boundaries to keep the chickens from eating the vegetables or ruining the beds, but they will certainly enjoy scratching in the paths between the raised garden beds.


Monday, February 4, 2013


The chicks arrived this morning. Was hanging out in my pajamas (since Dad was home over the weekend he took the kids up to the bus stop this morning on his way back to his office) when the post office called. Jumped up, got dressed, turned on the heat lamps, and filled the waterers and headed to the post office.

I could hear their little peeps as soon as I walked in the door. Wearing my black overcoat and giant black sheepskin hat, I probably looked a sight, but I was too busy smiling like  dork over the fact that my chicks arrived.

Took them home, and opened the box, and everyone made it! No one seems unwell, all are good sized, and no one had pasty butt or any other issues. As I took each chick out of the box, I dipped its beak in the water dish so they'd get a taste for a drink. For the moment, they have the equivalent of gatorade in their water bottles. They are finding their water and feed with no problems. Right now, they are all huddled up under the lamp, peeping away happily. Or at least I think they sound happy. They don't sound UN-happy! :-)

This little girl/boy is the "exotic" chick that the hatchery (Murray McMurray) gave as a free gift for getting 30 Buff Orpingtons (I got 5 boys and 25 girls).

I did have a "oh crap what have I gotten myself into) moment a few minutes ago. But I'm good now. I'm a farmer. :-)