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?" 

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,


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,


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,


Friday, December 11, 2015


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
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.