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Life on "The Farm" is . . .

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Construction Zone! Part Two

So, now the inside of the "bonus" space is painted
and the wire shelving is going up.
Three beautiful deep wire shelves plus the space
at the bottom, just itching to be filled!

Initially, I thought I might paint the inside of the pantry
 and was in the process when a little helper arrived.
 So I gave him the brush and let him go to town.
He was so proud of himself (and so was I!)

Now the bonus space is completely walled-in and painted.
I decided not to take the time to paint the entire pantry space
but the back wall definitely needed it since I used various pieces of
left-over wall board and it had a not-so-pleasing patchwork look.

It's time to begin installing the shelving in the side walls.
As I always do, before I begin a project, I spent hours on the
internet, searching for ideas, suggestions, and other people's
solutions. I came across a brilliant invention by a fellow
Texan that would have been fabulous if I had not been on a
tight budget--The EZ Stud Rack.
 However, it is what it is . . .  so back to the drawing board I went
and came up with the idea of using pegboard and shelf pegs.
(Most of my inspiration hits as I roam the aisles of Lowe's!)
I bought sheets of pegboard and cut it into strips, then screwed the
strips into the studs, using pieces of quarter-inch wood as spacers
 between the stud and pegboard so that the shelf pegs would push
all the way into the holes.

I went from just above the floor to the ceiling on both walls, installing
wider strips of pegboard on the right side for wider shelves, since the
right side has a few inches more space than the left. 
As tempted as I was to stuff the entire space with the widest shelves
possible, I didn't want the pantry to feel too crowded.

The shelf pegs were more economical to buy in quantities of twenty. I lost count of how many bags I ended up buying (technically, I could go back over my receipts, but sometimes, ignorance is bliss.) I also found some plastic pegs on clearance at another hardware store and ended up using three different kinds of shelf pegs before I was done but you don't notice them so it doesn't matter. I was going for utility rather than showiness and, anyway, isn't variety the spice of life? (I do have to say I've come a long way from the day that I would NEVER have mixed and matched but instead would have worn myself out making sure it was all PERFECT.  Ahhhh, sweet freedom!)

One thing you do have to watch for is the size of the pegs.
If you have 1/4" pegboard, you must use 1/4" pegs.
If you just assume all pegs are 1/4", then be prepared to
head to the returns desk on your next trip to Walmart.
Trust me on this one.

 I must pause to give credit where credit is due . . .
how could I have ever done this project without
the assistance of our Head Hen, Lucy?
"I wanna cut some wood! Can I? Please, please, please???"
(And there's Miss Violet, standing by,  waiting for her turn.)
I went with shelf pegs so I could adjust the shelves to different heights.
This has proven to be a very good choice. Two shelf pegs on each side
to hold the shelf and one on each side to keep the shelf from tipping.
I've since discovered other options for tipping prevention--just plain
 pegs would work or even pieces of quarter-inch dowel rods. This was
 definitely a learn-as-you-go project and yes, there are some things
I would do differently but, over all, I'm very pleased.
The shelves were cut from 1"x4"s and 1"x8"s and slip between the shelf
pegs (not always so easily but at least they're a nice, tight fit.)
One thing I had to be careful to do was to make sure the pegboard
holes were lined up so the shelf would be level. A few times, rather
than move the pegboard strip, I just drilled new holes.
You gotta do what you gotta do.

 I didn't even have all the shelving in place
before I just HAD to start filling the new pantry!
The fact that I can only fit one item deep on the narrower shelves and
two deep on the wider ones, makes it so easy to see at a glance exactly
what I have on hand and when it's time to re-stock. No more pulling
 out ten items to get to the one thing I need in the very back.

As an afterthought, I installed pegboard to the back wall to hang tools.
 No space wasted!!!
The flooring is vinyl left over from the rent house renovation.
I also glued a piece to the bottom of the bonus space for easier
clean-up and a nicer appearance.

 I'm still adding shelves and have re-arranged a few things since
this picture was taken but all-in-all, this project is COMPLETE!
We are loving our new pantry and as an extra bonus, our laundry
space is much neater AND now I have room to install a barn-type
door for the pantry. Yay, another project!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Violet Goes to Time-Out

Our coffee time was interrupted this morning by a phone call.
"Did you know one of your chickens is outside the fence?"
"No. No, I did not," I said, with a sigh,
 and ran to put on my robe and slip into my chicken-chasing shoes.
Surely it's Pearl, I thought to myself, since she's the only one whose wings
haven't been clipped. But (I should have known) it was Violet.
Vexatious Violet!
I had already foiled her plan to escape the yard by flying
to the top of the gate then out. How did she manage this time?
Into the "playpen" she went for time-out until
I could figure out her newest escape route.

I did a little bit of research on backyardchickens.com and someone
mentioned moving anything away from the fence that they might
be able to flap up onto and thus facilitate their escape.
Ahhh, the lawn tractor!
Right next to the fence and just asking to be used in a break-out.
So I moved it next to the house instead and released Violet from time-out.
 So far, she has remained within the confines of the yard since.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Construction Zone!

Farm life isn't just about chickens (even though that's one of the most fun parts!) Sometimes it's about gardening, sewing, crafting, decorating, etc., and there are always the homekeeping duties--dusting, dishes, laundry, and all the rest. Right now, for me it's all about CONSTRUCTION . . . as in, new Pantry! I forgot to put that in my "dreams" list but it certainly should have been there.
Ever since we stopped using our old furnace (our almost 30 year old furnace) I have coveted all the beautiful space that housed the monstrosity. If there's anything I hate, it's wasted space and I needed that space something awful. So I made up my mind to just do it. Out with the old . . .
(Is this disgusting, or what?) 
Once the unit was out, I tore down the sheet rock on the wall sides and pulled down the sheetrock ceiling. That gave me about three more inches on each side and a whole lot more space overhead. Then, I pulled down the back wall and was overjoyed to discover 1.5 x 2 extra feet of space. Oh my heavens! So now, not only do I have the two foot by four foot space I was counting on, I have a bonus space that's deep enough to use the wire shelving Julie gave me.

 Look at all that lovely space! Not too wide, since I have to allow some room between the wall and the fireplace pipe, but over five feet high!
The huge hole in floor where the ductwork connected to the furnace plus some rotten wood means a new floor.

                                Ta-da! New 3/4" treated plywood floor.
Fit like a puzzle piece--a miracle!!!!!
                    The rule is "Measure twice, cut once." The rule for me is
                       "Measure three to five times and hopefully cut once."

I spent a lot of time cutting and installing a plywood floor to replace the sheetrock one (that wasn't intended to bear weight) and framing in the space, adding side support for the shelf brackets. A lot of trial and error.
The "bonus" space is walled in and ready to be painted. So much done yet so much left to do. I'm impatient! More to come . . .


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Labor & Delivery

Pearl, our brown egg girl,
is quite vocal when she's in the process of laying.
Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCK, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCK,
 cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCK, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck . . .
It's sort of like standing outside labor and delivery,
hearing the sounds of the agony of childbirth.
Some say it's the sound of a proud hen after laying a
trophy egg. Others say it's the sound that comes from
the incredible relief . . . that it's over.

And yes, folks, we found three eggs in the
nest at the same time, two days in a row!
On the third day, no eggs at all,
which we could certainly understand.
Good work, girls!

Hmmmmm, fall is in the air and cooler weather is just around the corner.
I love this time of year, probably the most of any of the seasons, because
the end of the summer heat so invigorates me. I can hardly wait!
So many outside projects that have been put-off until it's more
comfortable to work. Among them is the cleaning out of the storage
building (not a job to do in the middle of a Texas summer, that's for sure!)
and the installing of the beautiful old-fashioned double-loop wire fence
and gate which entails digging postholes. A LOT of postholes.
Isn't there a machine that does that?
I'm anxious to dress the house in the colors of autumn,
which are some of my favorites--Beauty berry purples, 
spider lily reds, burnt oranges, chocolate browns . . .
 ahhhhhh, just makes you want to rake leaves (well, almost.)
Soon, the fireplace wall and mantle will burst with fall color but
I want to enjoy the summer vignette I created for a few more days.
 Pinterest gets most of the credit for the "look" but I had to do
the work of tracking down just the right elements.
I found the large shabby chic wooden window frame, platter,
and the just-perfect "welcome" sign at an antiques mall.
I already had the pitchers (the larger one belonged to my Grandma)
and dried hydrangeas from my garden, and I made the burlap
and paper lace banner. I love how the colors complement
the rock wall and give a sense of serenity to the room.
Calm and cool for summer, but soon to be warm
and rich and vibrant for autumn.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Close Call!

Heading out the back door for work, the preacher
stopped short and uttered those ominous words that
strike fear into the heart of a chicken-keeper,
 "OH, NO!"
I rushed to see and there she was, Violet, in all her glory,
proudly perched on top of the gate, poised for flight.

                                                        "Shall I stay in the safe yard?"        

"Oh, but the big world looks so exciting!"

The preacher raced out the front door, rounded the corner of the house,
 and made it in time to shoo her the other direction, back into the yard. Whew!
Now that she thinks she's so smart
(I found her perched there a second time this morning),
 I have had to end all her hopes of exploring the outside world
by affixing a piece of fencing to the top of the gate.
"Woe is me," says Violet, "she has ruined my dream
of an exciting life. Guess I'll just go lay an egg."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Now, That Really IS More Like It!

So, what could be better than getting two eggs at a time? 
Finally getting an egg from Pearl!
(Formerly known as The Hen Who Lays No Eggs.)

And, it gets even better because today was another first . . .
I gathered three beautiful eggs this morning! Hip, Hip, Hurray!
We must be doing something right since happy hens lay eggs. 
 Thank you, Pearl! Now, we must call you
The Hen Who Really Does Lay Eggs After All.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No-Fly Zone

Not long after we got our hens, I opened the back door just in time to observe Violet clearing the fence. We knew when we first brought her home that she was ''The Hen Most Likely to Fly" and this was the last straw so it was wing-clipping time for her. She took it better than I had expected and afterward we both went on our merry ways. Then, a few days ago, I found Lucy outside the fence. I easily caught her and put her back where she belongs, safe from the critters who roam the world outside our cozy yard. I really didn't think much of her getting out but later in the day, Hubs discovered her exploring the rest of the property and that was that. Once again, out came the scissors! I should probably just go ahead with preventative measures and clip the wings of Pearl, "The Hen Who Lays No Eggs.''


It rained last night, a little bit, and I was thankful. Still, I asked for more (greedy child that I am) and now I have stopped working on my current project, turned off the radio, and stand in the deck doorway to watch, smell, feel the rain and listen to the booming bass drum music of the thunder. September rain hints of delightful days to come when the dog days are over and there's a refreshing nip in the air.  I am very, very grateful.
                                       Thank You so much, my Father.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life on "The Farm" is . . .











Sometimes a little bit scary,

And a whole lot of

Edible art courtesy of Elissa

Now, That's More Like It!

Two eggs in one day! That's a first for us! Way to go, girls!!!
Now Pearl, girlfriend, we need to talk. Lucy and Violet sure are
making you look bad. Time for you to show your stuff.
We want brown eggs! We want brown eggs! 


 "Grandmama! Grandmama!"
Second Granddaughter greets me enthusiastically.
Then, without taking a breath, she asks, "Where are the chickens?"
"Where are the chickens?" I ask her back and she smiles her impish,
cute-as-a-button smile. "In the gate!" (Which means in the backyard.)
The grandkids, especially the girls, have enjoyed our chickens more than I ever imagined they would. Second Granddaughter had the sweet privilege of finding the first egg but so far has completely failed to comprehend (or maybe chooses to ignore?) the admonition,

"Don't chase the chickens!"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ta-Da! Presenting ''The Cottage"!


 "The Cottage" is finally complete (for now anyway.) I made changes as I went along and it was truly a trial and error thing. I love how it turned out, though, and I think the girls do, too.

If I'm at home during the day and can occasionally check on them, I let the girls free-range in the entire back yard. If I need to be gone, however, I enclose them in the circular run that I made from a discarded trampoline frame wrapped all around with poultry netting (chicken wire) and draped over the top with bird netting. For an extra cottage-y touch, I attached rolled picket fencing purchased from American Fence and Supply Co. in Georgetown, Texas (http://www.afence.com). At night, after they've put themselves to bed (and they really do that!), I close the "screen" door-- safe-keeping for them and peace of mind for us. We live in a rural neighborhood so other than a few cats and dogs, we don't seem to have the usual predators hanging around. You never know, though, so it's better to be safe than sorry. In the morning, they are eager to leave their small run and venture out into wider spaces.


The coop was originally designed to be one piece, with the roofed run screwed permanently onto the house part. Even though I could move the entire thing by myself (but just barely) to another location in the yard, I was afraid of eventually tearing it all to pieces so I removed the screws and attached the run to the house with latches, one at the top and one at the bottom, on both sides. I also secured the open-ended run by attaching a piece of 1" x 2" to completely frame in the bottom and make it stable when not attached.

I love how the screen door turned out but I wish the gingerbread trim, that I bought online from a dollhouse supply company, had been a little larger. I did find one source for "architectural corners" that might have looked better but the cost would have put me in the poor house!


                                     Just for fun, when the ventilation door is closed.