Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dirt Poor

Not.  We got lot's of dirt. Sand and Gravel.  The sand is a seven minute round trip from a pit in our upper pasture.

Yesterday after getting Xena's wing patched up with six stitches, I started to back fill the trench we dug to get water to the Blue Shed.  First we put bout 300 cubic feet of sand on top of the 3/4 inch poly pipe.  That keeps the rocks in the clay soil backfill from crushing it.  Then I started to put the back fill clay soil in the trench.

Funny thing with trenches.  I just can never get the same amount of fill back in that I took out.  I suppose if I had  compacter it could be done. What I do is just keep driving the skid steer over the trench and mounding the clay soil up and they repeating as the bump disappears.

My skid-steer isn't up to this kind of heavy lifting so I was using Brother Tom's.  It is so fast, compared to mine,  that I get motion sickness when I use if for any amount of time.  All that twisting and turning and jerking to a stop and backing up... Jo-Ann's ministrations of Ginger tea were required to get me back on my feet after a couple of hours.

Hopefully I will get the rest of the trench filled in today and can move on over to the insulate the green house project.  It went to 10 below night before last which decimated all the squash.  Next year, via greenhouse,  we start sooner in the season and cover by September.

Of course I wasn't allowed to play with plumbing tools without supervision.  There was that incident in the green house when I cut a loaded PEX line..So they keep an eye on me.  Safely out of range of course.   I am pretty sure that it helps..

The new chicken watering rig was readily accepted by the chucks.  It is so much cleaner than using the plastic bucket waterer - and of course it's automatic, as the water level goes down a spring gets released which fills it back up.

Ditto for the pig waterer.

The pigs seemed to take a little longer to figure it out.  Their snouts hit the brass knob which releases a trickle of water.  A whole lot less ends up on the floor or brewed with the stuff between their fore feet's toes.

After a hard days work in the trenches me and a  couple stalwart friends decided to have a sleep out on the balcony under the full moon:
Hay! Don't give Cleo all the sleeping bag..

Eventually order is restored and  a productive day drifts off under the moon light ..
OK just scrooch over and maybe bring me the spare pillow..

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Trenches

Today brother Tom and a couple of friends came up and we dug the trench to bring water to the blue shed. What an improvement that will be.  The two piggies really go through the water and the chickens require a daily supply of fresh water.

Something about digging trenches with heavy equipment just brings out the kid in men.  Of course my friend just retired from Municipal service, and I've been retired for five years so we were experienced trench watchers!

We had prepared for the worst.  Pipes breaking, threads missing, frozen couplings but the disassembly of  an existing standpipe to connect to the run was surprisingly easy.  No plan "B's" required.

Now to get a few more fittings and start the PEX connections into and around the blue shed.  My friend Vic suggested a tap near the stove to make mash for the pigs.  A great idea and one the pigs will be sure to appreciate.  Now I didn't want to take this last shot but the photographer insisted:
Everyone Breathed a sigh of relief when the water cleared.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Putting on the Light

It was raining so hard yesterday that the outside work of studding the wall for R30 insulation had to come to a halt.

So instead a friend and I  moved inside the Green house and  finished installing some heavy duty shelves in the Green House.  And that gave me room to spread out four HID fixtures and wire them up.  A 400 and two 150 watt High pressure sodiums and one 250 watt metal halide.  Sure puts a lot of light in a small green house.  It will be an interesting experiment to see how the plants grow under the lights.  I am hoping to get enough blue light through the windows that the HPS fixtures will be sufficient for growth.

The wood stove is ready to go, a small electric heater, and thermal mass from the tires and barrels are keeping the temperature to 21C over night, and of course the fixtures add some heat but it won't be long before we have to start feeding some wood into the heater.  Adding another plastic layer to the windows inside and out will also be a big help.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Putting on the Heat

O.K. it's still a bit warm but soon it will get colder.  When It gets really cold I will probably need some additional heat in the Green House.

I had salvaged an old Valley Comfort heater from a house that a friend of mine and I demolished.  At first look it was in pretty good shape.  After cutting the proper hole size, we installed some tin and hoisted  the stove into place.

 By the time we finished it was getting a tad late..
The next day I  discovered that It had been run without fire brick and If I had of looked towards the back I would have noticed that the fire box was all but destroyed.  I was able to salvage the mechanical draft control from it to use in another heater we have in the Blue shed.  That will make it run a whole lot more efficiently.

Fortunatly I also had another heater as backup a veritable Ashley C60-D.  It had been left outside in the elements uncovered.  It was sound but rusted.

Nothing that a coat of high temperature stove paint and new door gaskets wouldn't improve.

I even found a fan motor that was left in the Green House when it was just the Red storage shed.  It still had the original packaging and instructions.  It has a thermo couple switch to turn on the fan when the heater reaches temperature.  This heater is definitely over kill for this space  - but hard to beat the price. The metal paneling behind the stove is held out 3 inches from the wall on spacers.  The floor around the heater is also metal covered.  No place for sparks to grow.

Hope your staying warm!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Avast Maties!

I am wearing a safety belt - it's holding up my pants!
In my youth I wanted to make a fero-concrete hulled sailboat  and sail around the world.  A one day trip out of Vancouver on a friends ferro concrete boat with a couple of hours of four foot swells disavowed me of that notion.  So when I was gifted an aluminum mast I decided to keep it securely fastend to land.
Were not moving it!  It's great right here..
We put a weather station transmitter on top and it gets info wirelessly to a station inside the house a couple of hundred feet away,  right near my chair.
Hope the light doesn't lead to navigational mishaps..
I don't have to look out the window now to see if it's raining or the winds blowing - and exactly how much! Or if the mercury is dropping.   I can use the window for what it was designed for:  a white board to keep my 2do lists.

On the porcine front we completed the inside pen.  I had some 4 by 8 poplar timbers for makeing uprights and heavy duty trim that runs up the side of the pen.  We reinforced the floor with plywood.  The shed doesn't have too many more years left in it, but between the chicken coop and inside pig pen I've probably increased the chances of it making another winter.
Rough 2 X 6's for the top three rails and ledge, 4 X 8's for the bottom two feet The chicken pen is to the right.

Friends Barb ( Bubba ) and  Mike (Rockey ) and doggies Rusty and Mia arrived and really fast tracked construction with the outside pen and weather station projects.

Bubba climbed in the skid-steer and is now a certified operator!
Fork it over!
Before we could build the outside pen a wall had to come down.  The excavator worked as a lift. And made short work of moving the beams.  The lumber all gets salvaged.
You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelete..
Then fence posts every six feet.
..A little to the right and two and a half feet down..

Rough 2 by 6 lumber for rails.  We wanted it to be sturdy. We also put heavy duty chicken wire on the inside to cut back on rail gnawing.
Bubba ducks just in time! It just looks like she is being threatened with a stick..
Bubba demonstrates proper nailing technique when dealing with 8 inch spiral spikes.
You just have to think of somebody who needs straightening out..
The outside pen is 18 by 24 feet.  The wall we left up acts as a wind guard.  Between the pen and the wall is skid steer access to a set of double doors. The outside chicken pen is to the left.
Strong like Bull!  But time will tell..
This gate gives acces to pasture.  First we have to train them on an electric fence.  I was thinking of running a wire along the inside of the pen to get them used to it.
Looks like the piggy is making a high speed break for it..
This is a sliding gate for access from the inside pen area.
We put a foam head banger on the top,  just in case..
And an insulated door that lifts up for access to the pen from the inside area.
The door has a wedgie.  The rope goes to a pully so the door can be opened without going in the pen.

The seven week old Piglets arrived on Thursday to much excitement!  The greeting committee was on hand.
Just so you know..this is my pad..I get all the mice.
It didn't take 'em long to check out the new digs.
So waddda think, should we stay?

Bubba is now known as the pig whisperer.  She quickly had the piggies eating Deer Tongue lettuce right out of her hand.
Kinda looks like she is blowing lettuce out of her nose!
The female is a little more daring than the male.
They are still afraid of me but something tells me they are coming around.  The name game is going on.  I'm partial to Breakfast and Supper.  Maybe  Egon and Bacon.  What's your suggestion.

Hope your week is going well!