Saturday, December 31, 2011


This has been a year of closure with the death of Richards' father , he will be greatly missed. It was important for Richard to spend that time to care for his father and closing his affairs. So not alot was accomplished on the ranch this year and last.

We found these great cast iron signs on e-bay at for about $20.00 each, they work well for the rustic look we have going on.
The 31 chickens are loving the winter rye grass and laying about 22 eggs a day between them. I know there are about 3 older hens (4 years old:not laying) that I can not tell a difference from the younger layers (less than a year) . That was when I failed to mark the older hens from the younger ones with plastic rings.
Richards cousin gave us a few dozen fish and the aquatic plants to really dress up the pond. With the powerful filtering system it is really staying clear.
The bath house awaits the next step.... raising of the walls.
We are grateful it has started raining again and hope this is a ongoing trend.
I started placing the insulation in the green house, a very dusty job dealing with recycled fiberglass insulation, I wear a face mask and rubber gloves.
The garden is sleeping . It has been a very warm winter and we have not had a deep freeze. This is the time I get caught up on weeding and plan for the next planting season.

Our son found this little heater for our outside shower . We hooked it up with the hose using adapters to convert the hoses from outside plumbing to house plumbing so the shower head would work. We have it in the chicken coop that shares a wall with the shower.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bath house door frames

The door frames are ready for installation. We calculated the dimensions by measuring the doors and allowing 1/2" more for adjustments. We then placed temporary boards nailed to the frame as to hold them to plumb and square.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

On to the Bathhouse.....

The windows are done and finished with cross boards to make sure they stay plum and square. We marked the top and inside of each frame.
We have been collecting the other materials for the bathhouse project as well: 7 yards of masonry sand, 15 bags of masonry cement, 15 bags of portland cement, 10 sticks of #3 rebar and Perlite for insulation to pour into the blocks. In my research I found out that this is the only material that can be used because loose fill fiber will absorb moisture .
Here Richard is using a square to make sure the corner remains square as he secures it with a screw. We are using treated 2X8 lumber for the windows.
We are using the shop slab that was poured 2 years ago for our work space, this is really coming in handy as it is level and cleaner than the dirt!

Here are my sketches that I drew up for the door and window openings. These have to be built before the first brick is laid for the building. I calculated the width of the door plus 1/2 inch for leaway . We decited to not have jams on these doors because of the final look. If you are planning on jams , you would add another inch and 1/2. The windows are the actual width plus 1/2 inch in all directions. It is important to note that the top piece rests on the side pieces for stuctual integraty .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

YEP!, the Carport.......

This is the exciting part when all the forms are removed and the final finish coat is applied to the side walls. They used a cement and sand mix to smooth out the rough surface. The weld plates and anchor bolts are placed in the cement when it is hard enough to walk on yet still soft enough to get them in place.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The final truck has come and gone and although lunch is ready and waiting for them, they have to get to a certin point before they can take a break, cement waits for no one and once it has set, it is there forever. Oh and by the way, it took 4 loads!

The third truck has unloaded and we are lookin good!!

The second truck arrives and it looks like it will take us to the half-way point. I calculated 4 loads, 40 cubic yards. We will see.

This is a good shot of all that steel that we will never see again but will be so important as time goes on.
The chute man guides the cement to where it needs to be placed and the other two rake like heck to get the cement in place before it starts to set, it all depends on the temperature and humidity as to how long it will take, somewhere around 3-4 hours.

The cement truck arrives with the first load and the hussle begins!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Carport ongoing....

Due to weather constrants and Thanksgiving it took longer than we had planned to do the pour, but this happens and the only thing to do is wait it out. But we are ready ! Larry is digging out the final hole where a center pole will help to support the building. Rocks are placed to keep the rebar off of the plastic and the bottom where it would be exposed and could weaken the foundation. Because this is a carport the thickness of the slab will be 6"in the car parking side and 4" in the storage side.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carport continued.....

The crew worked yesterday and today building the forms to withstand the force of the wet cement . As we have learned in our past projects about how cement can get away from you if you don't have extremly strong forms and enough people to get the cement in place and smooth before it dries.
Above you can see the rebar in place about one foot apart going in both directions. We used 1/2 inch rebar, also known as #4 rebar.

After the fill dirt is in place and the footings are dug (footings are the ditches that go below the frost line around the whole building and where ever there will be a wall that needs extra support) ,6 mil plastic is placed as a vapor barrier so the cement does not dry out too fast. Next the rebar is cut and tied together to give the foundation its strength. In the picture above you can see one of the rebar structures ready to be placed in the footing.

Here we brought in our electical inside the building so we would not have to see the box on the outside. This line was dug a few years ago and we just extended it about 10 ft to come up from under the footing.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carport Foundation

The forming of a foundation starts with finding the corners that are square to each other and the top of the floor that is level from one end to the other. This is done most easily with a Laser Level, but it helps to use someone that knows how to use this instrument. We decided to hire the crew that had formed the shop and bath house 2 years ago. It will take them about 4 days to complete the foundation.
After they found the corner points and what was level, they established the top edge with 2 X 12 inch lumber and reinforced this board with 2X 4 for support. Because we wanted to start on solid ground, we needed 48 cu yards of heavy sand fill dirt for our 22 foot X 36 foot carport.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Installing the greenhouse ceiling

WOW , what a difference a shiny ceiling makes in the greenhouse ! Two of us put it up in 5 hours. The building is not exactly square, so the straight sheets were off 2 inches from end to end.
The east to west walls are 31 feet long, so We bought 2-10 foot and 1-12 foot lengths of tin. This size was relatively easy to handle and we had room to overlap. The plants are loving the extra reflective light!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken Soup Anyone!!!

Lastly , the chicken is cut open from the rear and all the internal parts are removed. At this point the chicken is cooled in ice water for 2 hours, this allows the remaining blood to be removed. It is best to refrigerate the chicken for 2 days before eating or processing.
Here is the de-featherer , the chicken is spin around and the rubbery spikes take the feathers off in about 1 minute.
Next is the soapy steam bath. Exactly 140 degrees, any hotter and the feathers will not release. They are in there for 1 minute.
They start the process by putting the chicken head first into this cone. The "kosher" way is to cut the main arteries in the neck, this is the least hurtful to the chicken. When they are commercial killed they cut off the head which is a shock to the chicken, thus the saying "running around with one head cut off".
I transported our chickens to a farm that processes turkeys and chickens. We just have too many chickens and I could not sell a 4 yr old , by the time they are this old they decline in egg production to about 1 egg a week.