Sunday, November 4, 2012

The homestead needs work.

The place is full of the staple-up ceiling tiles.  In the original part, there is a rustic wood ceiling hidden away, and we have since removed the tiles, peeled off the two layers of burlap and wallpaper covering, and the place already feels better.

It's a messy job, and pulling out the thousands of staples will do a number on your arm after hours of working above head-height.

We're also getting a bit tired of treking back to the blue house each evening to lock up the chickens.  It used to be a competition over who got to stay in bed and who had to walk the 30 steps to the chicken house each night, now it's a drive, always remembered after we've settled in for the night.

So a new chicken house is needed.  The kids and I built this one yesterday.  It's mounted on an old steel wagon I found in the woods here.

By we, I mean I had a very whiney audience to work around.  

I also got started digging out for the new footings to extend the existing porch, and build the new two story wrapping porch.

Alexe kept me company for a while as I finished the hole out with a shovel.

A few things:  

First, tractors make everything easier.  Digging, for example, has never been easier, and putting in this 10 ft long trench, in hard-packed driveway clay and gravel, took maybe ten minutes to rough-in.

Second, even when you're squaring up a hole, or flattening out the bottom, you can set the bucket of the tractor right there, shovel into it, and dump it out on top of the pile when you're done.

Third, it's very easy to break things, say a clay septic line.  Thank goodness I didn't rip out the water main, the cut off is at the far end of the driveway, and my trench would have been a pool by the time I made it over there.  

Easy fix, rubber couplers that fit over the clay pipe after I cut them off straight, stretched the rubber, greased the pipe ends, and pried them into place.  Connected with some 4" schedule 40 pvc, and voila, a lesson learned.  Glad there are no buried electric lines around here...yet.

Today's adventure was heading up to the Brown Family Dairy again, this time to pick up four piglets.  We also have the photographer in town for a four day shoot for Alexe and Dixie's book, so he came along.

Billy Ray had the piglets in this trailer.  

We picked out two girls, the only two in the litter, and two boys.  Before taking the boys home Billy Ray and I removed their boy bits.  This was new for me, and the photographer took some pictures that I may get my hands on later.  At the time my hands were full of pig.

The process was fast, and clean.  I'm sure it helped that Billy Ray has done this many times, and told me exactly what to do.  I grabbed the pig by its back legs, they weigh maybe 40 to 50 lbs each, flipped them onto their backs, and held them down firmly between my legs.  Billy Ray made two cuts with a razor, one over each testicle, squeezed the testicles out through the respective holes, and pulled them off with a sharp tug.  Sprayed the area with a purple iodine spray, and off the pig goes. 

I'm glad I'm not a pig, but it wasn't as bad as I was braced for.

The pink ones are the girls, the black ones with a white stripe the boys.  They rode home quietly in the back of the truck.

Getting them into the pen wasn't too much trouble.  This is an old dog kennel that I cleared out, and the fencing seems solid, and is buried two feet down.  Hopefully it will hold these guys for a while.  According to Billy Ray they will be up to 250 lbs by the Spring.

At first they ran to the far corner...

But just a few minutes later they were rooting and finding the scraps we had spread around for them.  From now on the BTC will have zero food waste.

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