The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues

More sunny weather allowed us to make substantial progress on our chicken coop yesterday. We expect to pick up with roofing late next week.

Work on the chicken coop continued thanks to the nicest weather we’ve had in all of 2021. All four walls are framed and up.

We also experimented with different lengths of rafters for the roof and the overhang. We settled on a 7-foot roof. It stick out about two feet in the front and 9 inches in the back. You can see the 2×4 we pinned up there to give us an idea of what it would look like.

Today’s post is going to be a photo essay. Enjoy.

Continue reading “The Walls are Up as Chicken Coop Framing Continues”

Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease

The yellow blooms of forsythia in the valley below us herald the coming of spring, but our mountain locations keeps it at bay.

I came down off our mountain to go shopping and realized it was spring in the valley. The forsythia was blooming. Willow trees had ribbons of green along their branches. When I got to our village, a few ornamental cherry and pear trees in front of houses were blooming.

On the mountain, spring has not yet sprung. In the woods, there are hint of it; red along the tree tops from the maples and touches of green in the undergrowth as small bushes. It’s as if they want to get a jump on the sunshine started soaking it up before their broadleaf cousins could intercept it all, and there was sunshine aplenty. It made me wish for bees. This would be their first real chance to gather pollen and perhaps some nectar and to rebuild their colony after the long cold winter.

While temperatures in the low 60s are welcome, we cannot get carried away. We are not done with the cold weather yet, as it is more than six weeks until our average last frost date. Already the five day forecast shows night time temperatures dropping back into the 20s before the weekend. With my luck, we’ll have snow.

Continue reading “Spring Shows Up For a Few Days, the Tease”

Warm Weather Brings Family, Gardening, and Target Practice

When the fall warms up, we call it Indian Summer. What’s it called when we get a preview of spring? I call it time to get a jump on outside projects.

We just spend the better part of a week with my daughter, her fiancé, and our new granddaughter. It was the first time we met the baby, and the first time they had been to our new house. My future son-in-law helped a great deal with the fence post installation. Being young and strong is a big help, of course, but having a strong work ethic is just as important.

It’s been more than 25 years since I last spent any significant time around a baby. I am amazed at how much stuff you “need” today to have for your baby. It’s clear consumerism gone crazy, spurred on by supposed experts and Instagram moms marketing the latest “must have” products. For example, today there is something called “tummy time” where you stick your baby on their belly and let them squirm to strengthen their neck muscles. But to do it correctly, you apparently need special tummy time pads. In the old days, we just stuck them on the floor, carpeted or not. If they bonked their little heads, well, that would teach them to keep their head up.

I have to admit that the Keurig-like device that dispenses warm water to mix with formula is pretty neat. And the new bottles that have some interior mechanism designed to prevent babies from sucking in air seems to minimize burping. Toys controlled by apps on your phone seems a bit much to me. Must we computerize everything?

Continue reading “Warm Weather Brings Family, Gardening, and Target Practice”

Looks Like More Preppers are Moving to our Mountain

Apparently we are not the only folks who think this is a good area for prepping. Far from the cities and off the beaten track, it is attracting other preppers

We met some neighbors who recently purchased land about half a mile down the mountain from us.  They were quite excited about their plans to put in a bridge, improve their driveway, build a log cabin, get a couple of milk cows, and go “off grid.”  They were also quite upfront about being preppers and not wanting to able to self-sufficient.

As a prepper, I am always happy to have other preppers in the neighborhood.  First, it means they should be able to sustain themselves in post-SHTF situation.  The more people in the area that have the ability to provide for themselves, the better.

Second, they may be someone we can barter with.  Third, hopefully they have useful skills, and fourth, they might be willing to support a mutual aid agreement or neighborhood defense force since anyone coming up the road will have to get past them before they get to us.

Continue reading “Looks Like More Preppers are Moving to our Mountain”

Prepper Diary: We Review our Options and Pick a Powerful Fence Post Hole Digger

After evaluating a number of power augers, we decided to go with a powerful option to dig our 25 fence post holes.

After watching several videos about post hole digging using one-man and two-man augers to drill fence post holes, I started to second guess my decision about using the two-man auger to drill 25 fence-post holes. When you use the two-man auger, you have to bend all the way down to the ground as the auger drills in and then lift the auger, its engine, and all the dirt stuck to the auger out of the hole. That looked like it would be tough on my back, which has been giving me intermittent problems for at least 20 years.

So I got up early, drove to the rental place, rented the Vermeer mini skid steer with a posthole digger that you in the photo above, and towed it back home. This is a heavy track-powered device with a 35 horsepower diesel engine that provides far more torque than the two-man systems with have 2.5 to 5 horsepower engines. I expected it would do a much faster job and be easier on my back.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary: We Review our Options and Pick a Powerful Fence Post Hole Digger”

Our Nice Rectangular Garden Just Became a Quadrilateral

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. We learned that our topography isn’t quite as neat and square as the graph paper we plotted our garden on.

Earlier today, the neat planning work I had done on the computer to layout the garden went from theoretical to physical. In other words, we adapted our lines on a paper to stakes in the ground and mason string in between them.

The first time I went out there and took rough measurements, it looked like we could fit a 50’ x 40’ garden. What I didn’t realize is that the property line we are following (the fence is going to be about a foot inside it) is not exactly square. So we are going to end up with a trapezoidal garden.

The 40-foot length stayed the same at the top of the garden (which is what I had measured the first time). The 50-foot “side” of the garden would have been fine, but after consulting with my wife, we made it 60 feet. It was the bottom of the garden where we lot space, as it turned out to be 35 feet across instead of 40. That’s where the square became a quadrilateral, or a four-sided shape in which no sides are the same length.

Continue reading “Our Nice Rectangular Garden Just Became a Quadrilateral”

Survival Diary February 24: We Make a Trip to the City

We made our first big shopping trip to the city in two months and it drove home the difference between living in big cities, small cities and rural areas.

Today was our first trip to Sam’s Club in two months.  Since we were going to the city, we also went to Target, a bookstore, Home Depot, and had lunch at Chik-fil-A. 

Since the city is on the other side of a mountain range and takes more than an hour to get there, it was a very full day.  We left at 9 a.m. and didn’t get back until after 4 p.m.  Then we had to unload, unpack and put away all the food. 

We used the trip to Sam’s to stock up for everyday meals and to add some food to our long term-storage.  Canned good are very much in stock at the Sam’s Club we visited.  They had a very robust selection of dry goods as well.  They had excellent sales on pasta, some of which was 60 cents a pound when you bought a six-pack.  That’s a remarkable price when you consider that pasta is often a dollar a pound on sale and anywhere from $1.20 to 1.50 for a box.  We bought 12 pounds of pasta and added six jars of spaghetti sauce.

We bought other tomato products as well, including tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Don’t overdo it with these products because canned tomatoes tend to have a shorter life in cans than they do in jars.  I have had more cans of tomato products on my shelf leak through than all other products combined.  This is a good argument for canning your own tomato products using Ball canning jars.

Continue reading “Survival Diary February 24: We Make a Trip to the City”

After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring

After a spate of cold days with temps dropping into the teens, we see the first signs of spring and we test our gravity-flow water system.

Today was the first day it felt like spring instead of winter. Temps were in the low 50s instead of the low 30s.

It isn’t spring, of course; it’s still February, but the promise of spring is in the air.

Where I grew up, the first flowers we would get were snowdrops and crocuses. None of those here, but I did spot the yellow flower pictured above. I don’t think it’s a dandelion, but if it is, I’ll take it; it’s still our first sign of spring.

So I did what every red-blooded American does on the first day of warm weather and I sighted in my new (to me) .308 rifle. It was only at 25 yards, but it gave me the excuse to break it down, clean it and lube it after the fact. Happily, it functioned fine which is always a bit of a concern when dealing with a used gun.

Now I just have to decide if it makes sense to get an optic for it. I guess I should try shooting at 200 yards to make that decision.

Continue reading “After the Deep Freeze, we Experience the First Twinges of Spring”

Prepper Diary February 7: As More Snow is Forecast, we have to Repair our Fireplace Insert

Stuff never breaks when its convenient. That’s why a good prepper can improvise and McGyver his way back into business when something fails on the homstead.

Looks like we’ll be waking up to more snow on Sunday, possibly another six inches or so.  Good thing we went to town when we did! 

As I have mentioned before, we have a big wood stove in the basement and a smaller fireplace insert upstairs.

The fireplace insert is a Buck Stove model 74 and uses a blower to blow warm air into the house.  I have disliked this approach because it requires electricity to function and without electricity, the insert produces almost no heat at all.  Adding to the complexity, the stove uses a thermostat to turn on and off the blower.  Apparently, it won’t go on until the temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Lately, my wife has been complaining that it’s taking longer and longer for the blower to kick on.  I’ve been thinking that maybe the fire is not hot enough, until yesterday when the blower did not go on at all.  I check it out, and the fire is merrily burning away, yet the blower is off and hardly any heat is entering the house.  Talk about a waste of firewood!

Continue reading “Prepper Diary February 7: As More Snow is Forecast, we have to Repair our Fireplace Insert”

Prepper Diary February 6: Waterproof Boots, COVID-19, and Frozen Pipes

Have you ever tried digging a hole in sandals? It doesn’t work very well, which is why you need a pair of work boots. You should be stockpiling good, sturdy workboots.

Today, I had one of those “thank goodness my boot is waterproof” moments when I stepped in what I thought was a pile of slush and I sank a goof three inches into what was actually a slush-filled puddle. 

I have multiple boots, including insulated, waterproof boots.  I was wearing the non-insulated lace-up work boots with a safety toe, but the waterproofing held and my foot stayed warm and dry.  Had I know I was going to be slugging through the mud and slush, I’d have put on my muck boots with the rubber bottom and neoprene uppers.  Those are some tough boots.

Proper footwear is critical on your retreat, homestead, farm, or for any other outdoor activity.  I tend to prefer taller boots that offer some support and protection against a turned ankle.  I also like the safety toe for chopping wood, lifting anything heavy, and working around equipment.  Waterproofing is great unless it is hot and dry.  I have a pair of marine-issue combat boots for that scenario.

Continue reading “Prepper Diary February 6: Waterproof Boots, COVID-19, and Frozen Pipes”