Monday, December 21, 2015

My First Bit of Bartering

This fall I did my first bit of bartering.  It was a "slow-pitch soft ball" kind of thing, but it was a start.  A brother-in-law had one of those long term temporary ShelterLogic portable shelter frames.  The years of sun and weather had taken a toll on the cover and it had been discarded.  He was looking for a more long term solution and was ready to have the old frame off the property.  I had, some time ago, REALLY miscalculated the amount of re-bar I was going to need for a project and a had bunch of laying around seriously in the way.  (I bought something like 3X what I really needed - oops....).  The trade was easy:

"Hey, I got this old shelter frame I want to get rid of.  Interested?" 
"Sure!!"

And when he came to delivery it:

"Hey, I got a boatload a re-bar laying around.  You got any interest in that?"

The deal was made just that easily.

D is a really fascinating guy who does a lot of blacksmith style of metal work and tool making, so he's always on the look for metal.  I really needed a shelter to get my little tractor out the weather and a bunch of stuff out my little barn so I can use it as the workshop it was intended to be.
 
I thought sure I had a better picture of the assembled frame.  Here's all could find.
 The shelter is 10' wide x 20' deep x 12' tall.  I was able to order a ShelterLogic factory-fit replacement cover from our local Menard's for less than $300.  My son and I had assembled the frame a couple of months ago.  The frame feet bolt into some lumber, and the lumber is then fastened to the ground with 4' stakes (made from re-bar, in my case).

It took me about 2 1/2 hours working by myself to figure out what piece went where and get the whole thing on and laced in.  If had been able to have someone working with me it would likely have been done in just over an hour.

New cover on and ready to use!
  Almost as soon as it was finished my daughter and son-in-law, who live in Indy, were given a washer and dryer.  We loaded them up in my trusty ol' 1993 Dodge and stored them in the shelter until last weekend when the were able to move them to their home in Indy.  We did do our best to empty the water out of the washer pump so there would be no freeze damage, and we put a "trouble light" with an honest-to-goodness 100W incandescent bulb in the drum just to keep it warm.

Put to good use on the day I got it done!  You can see the lacing near the bottom. New ones have a pocket for the bar.
It's big enough to hold my truck with the washer and dryer, as well as a bunch of plastic kid's toys from out of the yard.  In the near future, the truck will come out, and there will be a 4' x 10' shelf built in along the back wall where the stuff out of my shop will go.  Then the tractor will go in.

Not bad for my first bit of bartering.  Everyone walked away happy, and we both got something we could really use.  Nothing was sent out for scrap or left to rot until it was useless.  As I said earlier, there wasn't much bartering skill involved, but it did whet my appetite for similar deals in the future.

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark

The very, very, VERY last of the garden


So a couple of weeks ago I brought in the very, very, VERY last of the garden: the last of the Brussel Sprouts.  Every year I am amazed at these little garden beauties.  We like to wait until after the first hard frost to bring them in, but these little gems have had several frosts, snow, and a couple of mid-20s overnight freezes.  As you can see, they still look pretty healthy. 

The chickens were there to help, of course, as they always are when I'm in the garden.
Snack?!?  Snack?!?  Do you have a Snack?!?

Figures - They had NO interest in the sprouts until I started working on another plant.

Despite the rough weather, they all still looked really good.

I think she was looking for bugs.  Either that or was checking my work.  Either way, she's not shy.
 I think now I can really call the garden done, done, done.  Except for cleaning out a couple of beds.  And mulching them all for the winter.  And probably something else I've forgotten.  < Sigh > Never REALLY done I guess but, truth be told, I kind of like it that way.

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark


Updates to Chicken Feeders/Waterers


 A few posts ago I showed how we put in upgraded PVC feeders for the chickens.  Since they've been in we've had a lot less waste: A whole lot less.  It is difficult to find feed pellets down in the bedding where before there were lots of them.  A week or so ago I added a bit more PVC piping to make mid-week watering easier.

I started with 3" PVC, like the feeders.  The pics below show a 3" cleanout, a 3" to 1-1/2" reducer, and a 1-1/2" to 3/4" reducer assembled to make what amounts to a funnel.   You can use any combination of reducers to get to whatever size pipe you want to use.  Just make sure to test fit them all together in the store before you buy them.  I'd recommend 3/4" or 1" rather than 1/2" so you have less worry about it freezing shut.



The next step was to run PVC pipe from the end of the funnel down to the heated dog bowl we use to keep water open and available all the time during the winter months.   I used one 45 degree elbow in the middle because that made for an easy location to fasten down the pipe, but I probably could have done a straight shot and been OK.  It is fastened to the coop wall midway down and at the funnel with plain 'ol plastic pipe strap and roofing nails.

The bowls sits up to help keep manure, feathers, and bedding out of it.

Here you can see what it looks like from the 'vestibule'.  I also added a couple of tool holders to the set-up.  The rubber hammer is to help get the feed settled down in the mouth of the pipe.  It's never been completely stuck, but if it's a bit humid out sometimes it doesn't flow down all the way to the mouth of the pipe (as you see in the above pic) very well.  A couple of light wacks with the rubber hammer bring it right down.  The litter box scoop is for getting manure of the nesting boxes.  A couple of the girls have taking to spending the night there rather than on the perch.


De really likes this arrangement, since she does the chicken chores on the way to work in the morning.  She can bring an old gallon milk jug full of water down when she comes to open up the coop, unscrew the cap, pour in the water until the bowl is full, and not have worry getting 'dirty' by going into the coop with the birds.  We'll keep everyone updated on any unforeseen problems we run into, but so far it's worked really well.  I do still get into the coop on the weekends to clean out the bowl and start with fresh water.

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark






Friday, December 11, 2015

Answers!

Mama Pea over at "A Home Grown Journal"  decided a winter game was in order.  The plan is copy her set of questions into your own blog and provide your own answers.  There was a double dare involved and, even though it wasn't a "double DOG dare", I picked up the gauntlet.  So here ya go Mama Pea (and the rest of you)!


1)  Do you like blue cheese?
I do, but not in copious amounts.  You know, anything with that much 'culture' must be good for you, no matter how it tastes.

2)  Have you ever smoked?
Never ever, not even one puff of anything.  I have, however, set myself on fire more than once (welding, fireworks, burning off fields and fence lines) so if you look at it that way....

3)  Do you own a gun?  
Several - Shotgun, rifles, handguns, even a 45 caliber derringer that I can't trade or sell because its a favorite of my son, son-in-law, and nephews.  Between growing up a farm boy and my little hitch with Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC) I'm reasonable proficient with all of them.

4)  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?
Red - I'm not sure it resembles the flavor anything that ever grew on God's green earth and I only have it when its served when I'm a guest somewhere and water or tea isn't an option.

5)  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?
I don't.  I had my wisdom teeth taken out when I was 20 and in the Corps by some grizzled old Navy dentist who clearly had a dislike for Marines.  Nothing any civilian dentist can drum up is going to match that.

6)  What do you think of hot dogs?
I love 'em and will very rarely have one if its cooked properly outside on a grill and the brats that were grilled with it are all gone.

7)  What's your favorite Christmas movie?
'A Muppet Christmas Carol' and Patrick Stewart's version of "A Christmas Carol".

8)  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Coffee (x2) with probably too much whipping cream and sweetened with honey.

9)  Can you do push-ups?
Yeah, but the days of literally hundreds before breakfast ("Ohh!  You privates are really trying to p*$$ me off this morning, huh?  You're gonna do push-ups 'til I get tired!  Somebody bring me a chair!!  You privates may not be smart, but your gonna be strong!") are looooong past.  Maybe a dozen give or (more likely) take a few, done right.

10)  What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
My gold wedding band, just like Mama Pea.

11)  What's your favorite hobby?
Ham radio with target shooting being a follow-up.  Oddly enough, and I know this is nearly blasphemous, I have an X-Box game system I play occasionally too.

12)  Do you have A.D.D.?
Nope, nothing li...  Oh look!  A chicken!

13)  Do you wear glasses or contacts?
Sadly, yes.  Trifocals these days.

14)  What's your middle name?
Ok, I debated on this one but here it is:  Eshu.  It was my paternal grandfather's first name. (Unless you listen to my crazy aunt who says he never had a first name, just the initials S.U.)

15)  What are your thoughts at this moment?
Where does she even come up with these questions?

16)  Name 3 drinks you regularly consume.
Coffee, tea (several kinds both hot and cold) and water.

17)  What is a current worry of yours?
Kids that are struggling with health issues.

18)  What do you currently hate?
Lima beans, that GM stopped making the S-10 pick-up (C'mon man!), what legislatures have done to our public school system, the misplaced 'delete' key on one of my keyboards (must have been designed by committee), and paper cuts.

19)  Where is your favorite place to be?
Anywhere with my bride of 33 years.  Home is best but anywhere with her is good.

20)  What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?
Probably staying at home.  I might technically be "up" (i.e. not in bed) but that does not necessary imply "awake" and certainly does NOT mean "coherent".

21)  To where would you like to travel?
Europe, maybe.  Been up and down both mainland USA coasts.  Been to Asia.  I think I'll be happy with the American Southwest come retirement day.  By train would be fun.

22)  Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their
        blog.
I'm passing on this one, too.  I've discovered I'm a crummy prognosticator.

23)  Do you own slippers?
Yep - Colts blue with the horseshoe emblem on the outboard ankles.

24)  What color shirt are you wearing?
Grey T-shirt with Darth Vader waving his gloved finger in Princess Leah's face saying "Give me some space!"

25)  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
De and I had some when we were young.  I got along ok with them, but De had a lot of long satin nighties at the time and kept slipping and sliding off the edge of the bed.

26)  Can you whistle?
I can! (Resisting the temptation to embed the "Lassie" theme in the file.)

27)  What is your favorite color?
Earth tones, but I really don't have a favorite.  (I'm such a guy!)

28)  What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't because I shower at 4AM while De is still sleeping.  The master bath is only separated from the bedroom by a set of double French doors.  In the end it would be not good for either of us.

29)  Would you be a pirate?
Avast, me Lads and Lassies! "Nay", says I.  I be likin' me regular showers, I do.  And me garden.  I do pay me due respects to "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and all me land lubbin' offspring and their cousins get a fittin' felicitation from Cap'n Mark via text to honor the day.  Arrrgh!! 

30)  What's in your pocket right now?
Not a thing.  Relaxing in my flannel jammy pants.  They have pockets, but they are not would you call 'robust'.

31)  What's the last thing that made you laugh?
De is playing something about "Things we still ask our Moms" somebody posted on Facebook.  Wow....

32)  What vehicle do you drive?
A wimpy 2010 AWD Chevy Equinox already on it's second engine.  Why, you ask, would I drive such a thing?  Because my 2003 4WD Crew Cab S-10 has almost 300,000 miles and I had to pass it on my son before I drove it to death. (see #18)  I also have a much more manly 1992 Dodge Dakota that mostly gets used as a "farm truck" (12 MPG).

33)  What's the worst injury you've ever had?
Hmmm...  Probably the snapped ACL caused primarily by a failure to act my age.  They carved out a chunk of my hamstring and, with the help of a true-to-life Black and Decker drill (Really! I was sort of awake for it.) and a handful of little bitty metal parts, made me a new one.   I've broken both arms, had to have the tendons around one hip reconstructed, had a handful of stitches, got stupid on a motorcycle at 16 and woke up under the bike, gotten a couple other concussions, ....  You get the idea.  Being a bit adventurous (De might say 'foolish') does have some drawbacks.

34)  Do you love where you live?
 Absolutely!  NE Indiana on a parcel of the farm I grew up on.

35)  Would you change your first name if you could?
Nope.  I'm ok with what I have, and the folks that used to call my by middle name (friends of my Grandpa - see #14) are all gone now.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Blessings and the One who Blesses


Here at Hoosier Country Christian / Hoosier Country Home we have so much for which we are thankful.  We will celebrate the day like most, I suppose, sharing the day and a meal with family and friends.  There will be brothers, sisters, in-laws, in-laws to be, friends, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews.  Our family Thanksgiving gatherings have always been a place where those among us who have no family near can come and be welcomed, and we have been richly blessed with their company.  There will be talk of family, Church, community, and world goings on.  There will be games, noise, running indoors, shooing outdoors, and lots of laughter.  And there will be prayer.  One more way in which we are blessed is that we have an extended family that not only counts our blessings, but recognizes our most cherished blessings come in proportion to our relationship to the One who blesses.

And thus God has always intended it to be.   Before His chosen people would enter the Promised Land, God instructed them of the connection there would be between the blessings He would send and their relationship to Him. 


Dt.8:6 (NIV) Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 

Many generations, and a virgin birth, a cross, and an empty tomb later, the Apostle Paul reiterated the connection and plainly set into words what a right relationship with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord looks like, and how is it reflected in our relationship with those around us. 

Col:3:12 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

So today and every day enjoy that with which you have been blessed.  Count your blessings, thank the One who blesses, and strive to live today and every day like you are truly are grateful for all of it.  We are blessed! 

Col. 1:9-12, 

Mark

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chicken Coop Improvements

With winter settling in, pretty much on time, it was time make sure the birds are going to have open water all winter long.  Last year we ran an extension cord down to the coop to power the heater in the heated dog bowl we used.  It worked out pretty well right to the end of the winter where the cold and wet took advantage a nick in the insulation and roasted a 1/2 inch of cord.  This year we wanted to improve on that a bit.  We liked the dog bowl, but wanted something better than the rolled out extension cords we used last year.

 I put together sort of an interim solution:  I purchased a 150 foot (something like 47 meters) of 12/2 (with ground) direct burial electrical cord and cut it to the 120 or so feet I needed.  On one end I put a plug that goes into an outside outlet on the house, on the other went a standard electrical box.  I wired the box so that one outlet is always on and the other is switched with a lighted switch (so you can find the switch in the dark). 

Standard metal box with 'ears' for nailing to a wall stud.

 Right now the line is out on top of the ground (the snow, actually) whenever the snow melts I'll tuck it down in the soil.  It doesn't need to be deep, but it does need to be out of the way of the mower and any digging projects you are even considering doing.  I may directly wire the 'source' end into the house wiring when I either determine I'm not violating any codes or that it's truly safe to do so either way.

The path up to the outlet on the house
Into the bottom, "always on" outlet I plugged the dog bowl.  This provides sufficient heat, even on the coldest days to keep the water open for the birds.

The cord runs right up to the outlet.

As a side note, the new feeders we put in have proven to be almost waste free!

In the switched outlet, I plugged in a set of white outdoor Christmas tree lights I bought after Christmas last year, just for this purpose.  I put fencing staples where I wanted to string the lights, then tie-wrapped the lights to the staple.  This will make them easy to replace when the time comes.

Lights plugged into the switched outlet


Run over the top of the door to where the birds are.
 
And run around the inside of the coop roofing.
De and I like this arrangement so far.  It's not painfully bright, but there is enough light there to count the birds and make sure all is well before closing up the coop for the night.  We haven't decided yet as to whether we would consider putting the lights on a timer to try a coax a few more eggs out of the girls during the short days of winter.

The other improvement we made was to add another bit of roost.  When I trimmed down a couple of existing branches to make it easier to get in and out of the chicken's area, I reduced the amount of available perch space forcing some of the lower order birds to roost on the perch outside the nesting boxes.   After adding the new bit of perch space, they seem to slowly be working everyone back into the main perch.

They find the flash I used rather disconcerting.  This was before we added the lights.

 In any case, there it is.  Improvements seems to come in baby steps on the Hoosier Country Homestead, but they do come!

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark





It's heeereee!

In the spirit of better late than never, I finally got the mower deck out from under my little tractor and got the snow blade on.  Since the weather service was calling for snow (they were right) I could procrastinate no longer. 

Once I got the 3-point hitch blade on, I had one of those (very) rare moments of inspiration.  When I did the last mowing, I intentionally did it so to have my lawn clippings in what amounts to windrows.  Since I see my most of my lawn as a pasture with no critters, it pretty much never looks neat and manicured.  It usually looks like, well, a pasture with no critters.  That means lawn clippings are between 6 and 12 inches instead of the usual '1 inch off the top to keep it even' some of the neighbors who choose a suburb-in-the-country lifestyle.

My intention was to mow it into rows, then pitchfork it into my truck then onto the garden or mulch pile.
Here are my "windrows" ready to be moved into a mulch pile or the garden.

 My brain-flurry (not enough to be a brain-storm) was to use the back of blade to turn the windrows into mulch piles, that will make it much easier to pitch into the truck.
A short blade means multiple passes.
This pile is about 1/2 leaves.  The other four are the same size and mostly grass.
This method scuffs up the grass a bit and still leaves tufts behind.
 It turns out I got this done just in time.  I did this work on a Friday evening.

This is Saturday morning

This is Saturday afternoon!  We ended up with about 8 inches of the white stuff.




What a difference a day can make!!  In any case, all that good stuff is there and ready to be moved.  When ever I can get to it....

Col 1:9-12,

Mark







Very Last of the Garden

Ok - It's done.  We'll aaallmmmooossst done.  (I'll get to that in a moment.)
We've had a couple of good frosts and a freeze, so it was time to bring in the last of the last.

We left green beans on the plants to dry down.  It was about as dry as it was going to get, so it was time to bring them in.
Dried beans on the trestle ready to bring in.

The day before we picked them one of our NE Indiana fall winds came up and dumped one of the four trestles over.  It did not take the local opportunist long to figure out this amounted to a 'windfall' for them.  Had I left them down another day, the yield would have been dramatically reduced.  We got about a 5 gallon bucket full of unshelled pods.  We're holding off shelling them until the grandkids get here for Thanksgiving later this week.  They love to shell beans and peas.  I'll get pics.
Didn't take long for the 'chicken helpers' to locate a new treat.

They seemed to be a bit put out when set them up and started to do my own harvesting.

The other 'last of the last' harvests were:

Brussel Sprouts.  A couple of good frosts and even a light freeze really sweeten up brussel sprouts and they get to be just excellent.  We find folks who normally turn their nose up a 'sprouts' find them to be OK, if you pick them after a freeze.  Confession time:  I have three more of these plants out there to harvest, so they will be the last of the last of the last.  (I can't believe I wrote that....)


And Horseradish.  I didn't take a lot out, but there should be plenty once it's processed, since I'm the only one in the house who really like it.

I'll do a post on the processing in the near future.


So I guess I can call the 2015 harvest done!  Once again, God provided an amazing bounty.  And to make it even better, the first of the seed catalogs arrived in the mail!  Woo Hoo!

We are Blessed!

Col. 1:1-12,

Mark





Sunday, November 8, 2015

Guess I don't think like a chicken


When we built the coop, we made sure we had plenty of good nest boxes and yet, for some reason, there are apparently shortcomings in the eyes of some of the girls.  I try to keep by barn closed once the barn swallows have moved out but I do have to get in there once in awhile and, when I do, the mob moves in right on my heals.



 And when they do, at least one of the girls heads straight to a shelf: The shelf where I keep my chainsaw.


As you can see, they've knocked over several bottles and such to make the corner more cozy.  When they sit facing out, mostly they just sit awhile then move on.  However if they get up,


 Turn themselves around,

 And sit with their backside out,

 You need to come back later.

 I'm not sure why the chainsaw shelf is better than a laying box, but I guess I don't think like a chicken!

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark


Thursday, October 29, 2015

For the Folks at the Day Job


I'm taking some time away from the "day job" this week and part of next.  A vacation policy change meant that a number of us 'old timers' can no longer carry over vacation so we're all on a mad scramble to 'burn it'.  I've gotten far less outside work done than I had hoped, but have done pretty well on catching up on inside chores.  I have high hopes it will be the other way around next week.

I have a few friends at work that have been trading vacation pictures as we're off visiting family and friends and just getting away.  There were pictures of the Smokey Mountains and the ocean off Myrtle Beach.  There were pictures of sunrises over the water in Vermont with mountains in the background and picturesque docks and piers.  Not me.  Most of this year has been work-at-home vacations.  This is not a bad thing by any means, but the opportunities for scenes from far away places are pretty thin.  

Lucky for me, most of these friends have very limited experience with gardens larger than large patio pots and no experience with livestock of any kind.  That makes the chickens fascinating.  When I threatened to post a picture of my rooster instead of the ocean or mountains they were all in.  Below is what I emailed out, with references to the company deleted.  (After retirement day comes I'll spill the beans on what I do for a living.  Until then it'll just be "The day job".  Nothing "James Bond" or anything, but still best not shared with the broader audience.)

_______________________________________________________________________________

Ok,  Here are a few of shots of Ivan Crossbeak the new "Roo" in the family.
 
Seen from a distance with some of his "girls", he's a pretty handsome looking bird.  Really!  As birds go he's a 'looker' (from afar).

Up close: Not so much. Crossbeak!! Crossbeak!!

 
The closer you get, the worse it becomes.  I think its the "buttercup" comb combined with the crossbeak.  Ugh!  Still, he does have beautiful coloring.

 
As you recall, Ivan took over as the flock "Roo" for Fred, his "Daddy".  His "Mama" was one of the buff colored birds in the first picture.  Fred was a really pretty bird who would be around today if he hadn't decided it was ok to bully (meaning 'leave scars on the legs of') De and the daughters.  Not Cool!
 
Here's Fred in is heyday.
 
This is Fred today.  A far less colorful, but much cooler bird!  He's pretty laid back these days, and is just chillin' out waiting for his turn in the "hot tub".  There's probably an object lesson there, but I think I'll leave it alone.














De and I will be in Indy tomorrow.  But I may put together some more shots this evening.  For some reason I've got a couple of birds that like to lay in the barn behind where I keep my chainsaw.  I heard a couple of them in there as I came inside that were singing the "guess what I did" egg song, so now I gotta craw back there and go find the eggs.  I got one pic and will see if I can get some more while I'm digging around.
  __________________________________________________________________________

 So that's what I sent.  They seemed pleased with the submission, and so for no one has howled about sending beautiful Fred to 'freezer camp'.  I suppose that means I'll have to do better next time.  :-)

I do work with a great group of folks, and the ones I share pics with are especially wonderful.  One more way that I've been blessed.

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hen House Lessons-Learned

Yesterday dawned cool and clear and I, somewhat later than the sun, arose ready to get completely through my lengthy list of fall tasks.  As experienced homesteaders have already figured out, I got one (just one) mostly done.  But it was a good one, and I got a chance to reflect on some chicken coop lessons-learned while I was doing it.

#1 - It seemed like a good idea at the time 
When we built our coop a friend suggested we put a cheap plastic tarp down on the floor before I put in the bedding (pine shavings in our case).  The theory was when you did your once-a-year right-down-to-the-floor cleaning you just haul the tarp out and, as if by magic, the rest of it comes right along.  At the time it seemed like sheer genius and I went with it.  The reality was a)  Having the cheapo plastic tarp on the floor snagging your pitchfork or shovel made it much harder to do the in-between weekly cleanings. b)  Near as I can tell, there was far more muscle than magic associated with getting the floor clean.   Pitch it down far enough to get to the edges (that means most of it), rip it free from wall, roll it up into a messy bundle, and draaaag it out leaking the contents all along the way.  Lesson Learned - The new stuff went down right on the floor where it belongs.


#2 - This'll work, won't it?
Since we refurbed an existing structure when we built our coop we had less choice in the floor plan than we would if we had started from scratch.  Getting a decent perch in he limited floor space was one of the challenges.  What we ended up doing is getting a section out of a pine tree that needed come down anyway to sit in the corner.  In reality this worked pretty well with a couple of exceptions.  Since tree was pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get affair, some of branches where less than optimally placed.  The birds liked it, and still do, but some of those less than optimally places branches had the unseemly habit of catching your clothes, or shovel, or your head.  Lesson Learned - I don't care how much the birds liked their pine-tree perch  Au naturel, we need to get in there, too.  Yesterday there was some tree trimming.

The 'snags' sticking right out towards the door.  You can also see the "magic carpet"  (See #1)

A little tree trimming does wonders for access!

#3 They must know what they're doing!
When we outfitted the coop we looked over the available options for feeders and selected one a common commercial version.  It fit, mostly, in the space we allocated for it.  After awhile, though, the flaw in that design became clear.  Our store-bought feeder seems to be inviting the birds to waste feed.  Big time.

Yep, all the stuff on the 'magic carpet' is not pine shavings.  You can see the "Magic carpet" here too.
 There had to be a better way.  We found it at the local hardware store in the plumbing section.  After a little bit of sawing and gluing we assembled our alternative.

3" PVC cut and assembled

Installed before putting the new bedding in.

We set them to be filled from the "Foyer".
Feed and water ready for use!
Lesson Learned:  The jury is still out on this on since we just put it together, but the home built solution gets great reviews from other folks. It frees up space and will be no worse than the "store bought" option for waste.  I do plan on also adding some plumbing so that the water bowl can be filled from the foyer, too.

#4 And while you're at it.
The last job was not really a lesson-learned thing.  It was just a job the needed to be done.  A few weeks ago the glazing on one of the window panes gave up and let the window out with predictable results.  Yesterday, as part of getting ready for winter, the pane got replaced.

Guess which pane is the new one....

I still have the rest of list to do, but getting this done just about makes the coop ready for winter. 

It was a beautiful day to be outside, and a lot work got done.  We are blessed.

Col. 1:9-12,

Mark