Thursday, June 24, 2010

Progress Report Mid-Summer

It has been a very dry and hot summer. The garden did not fair well this year, I planted late and the weather went from cold to hot. I also need to shade more plants and water more than I have been. Moles got into the raspberries and I did have a very hard time keeping them wet enough, the way berries like to be.

The Rooster is taking care of his hens, so all is well on Turtle Ranch!!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Staining of the Bath house floor

We were always planning to stain the cement floors in both the Bath house and shop. We figured this would be a good place to experiment to see if we liked it enough to use in the main house.
I first did a test run on some stepping stones we had made from the left over cement. I first cleaned the cement with simple green and rinsed them with a hose really well. After the blocks dried for a day, I sprayed on the stain using a non-metal spaying unit (the stain is very corrosive and will damage any metal, this action is what makes the cement turn a different color). I let the acid stain work for a few hours and then rinsed the cement really well with baking soda and water to make sure the acid was neutralized. There is no need to scrub just let the soda do its work.

I did learn that the stain will look lighter before you but on the sealer. So when the cement is wet, that is the way it will look when you apply the sealer.
So what I did was to apply a first coat of the stain, let it dry, wash it with water and saw if it is as dark as I wanted. I repeated this until the floor looked the way we had envisioned. By the way , don't trust the sample colors to turn out the same on your cement, there are to many factors. Take the time to get the little sample bottles they will let you have and do the test batches. We like one of the samples ,did the test patch and it turned out very different than the swatch, so beware!!!!
After I got the desired color , washed the cement real well and let it dry completely I applied the sealer. I first used a lambs wool pad, this was disastrous. The pad shed and fell apart. I then switched to a hand brush which work very well but was difficult on my back and knees. So on the shop slab I used a 1/4 " nap roller, which worked well until the edges started to fray, so I had to switch out the roller a few times.
It really turned out beautiful, we are very happy with the results!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blocks for the bath house

We found a place in Austin that sales construction block seconds at a 30% discount. We have tried for a year now to acquire these recycled but contractors are in such a hurry that they do not take the time needed to gentle push the wall over so they don't break.
The semi-truck the blocks were delivered in could not make it into our property so our neighbor moved each pallet weighing 3500lbs each one at a time 400 ft down the back driveway. If the blocks weighed any more his Bobcat would not have been able to move the blocks at all!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rain water for the Chickens

We wanted to try our hands at a simple rain water system so we are starting with the chicken house. It had to be elevated as to gravity flow into the water bowl. We decided to dry stack cinder blocks , anchor them in place with re-bar and fill the center with dirt.
The first step was to find level grade for the cinder blocks to be placed on. With stakes and string we leveled the ground then packed it tight. Then the blocks were placed, fill dirt in the center and packed down to form a solid base.

For the rain water system we installed a roof washer that will fill up first before going in to the tank. We used a plug at the end with a clamp to open the plug. This way we can flush out even large debris easily.

Shortly after we got it installed it rained 4 inches and filled the tank half way!

Baby Chicks at 6 weeks old

Almost time to let them loose. Even though we were told to wait 4 months before we let them out, our neighbors have always let the chicks with the other flock about this time, so we might try it soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Garden Cage for the blueberries/ Grape

This started as just replacing one post that had rotted and caved in.
We decided to redo the whole cage and include the grapes as well.
The blueberries were in full production so we built the cage around the existing netting. This winter we are planning to replace the netting with chicken wire to keep the squirrels out as well. It will take putting up perlins to hold all the wire. A great winter project!