Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's In The Bag

Santa's not the only one packing a large bag of goodies around. Mind you if you pulled your gift from this bag you might be a bit disappointed.

We've discovered that the used grain bags are perfect for hauling wood and dropping it where we need it. We have fires burning in a couple of locations besides the house. The old barn and the greenhouse. We process the wood that we stacked last fall at our basement with a wood splitter, load the bags and drop them where we need them.

They have a cinch strap on the top that keeps the snow out. There's no refund for them so we're working on more ways to recycle them. Like a perfect cover for the back of the Jeep.

Our Boar is back from college.
who wouldn't go crazy for a face like this?
The ladies are fascinated with him.
OK, we'll sneak out a little later when the warden isn't looking...

Been a bit under the weather lately so I haven't been progressing on the project front as much as I've wanted to. We have plans for a 45 gallon water barrel feeding a bunch of nipples but in the meantime we just installed a heated 15 gallon water tub in a tire to keep it pig proof.

It seems to be working well. A lot better that trying to keep them watered from a trough.

Hope the Christmas season sees you and yours  well watered, healthy and happy.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

the Pigs Run Amok

Before I even opened the door to the barn the hairs on the back of my neck were inexplicably standing on end.  And then I opened the door.  The pigs had managed to un ravel the chain on their pen and had run amok.  Trampling everything in sight.  That would be a pigs sight - anything they could reach.  Of course their blaming some one else as they were all in the pen looking out at me when I walked in.

But they can't fool my finely attuned eye.  It was, after all, cemented to the floor with frozen pig crap.  Don't tell me the sheep dragged that in! And the sheep wouldn't devour a whole box of apples.. Thankfully most of my electrical hand tools and most of the power tools were out of reach.

It has been a really nice time of winter.  Before the deep winter cold.  Fresh snow and hoar frost make for a beautiful setting.  The animals sure seem to like it!

Starting to lose count of how many times I've had to plow out the place.  That's a good sign that winter is progressing.
the blue tinge is because it was taken near 3 pm and falling dark.

Hope you've got a friend by your side willing to share a comforter on a cold winters night!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Water Broke!

A couple of times, actually.  Thankfully, the hydrant in the barn was frozen in the closed position.  After several false starts I hit upon the solution.  Connected a funnel to a piece of garden hose, inserted a chunk of quarter inch plastic tubing (to let the air out) and poured some Methyl Hydrate down the hose.  Raising the funnel above the hydrant and in about a minute, voila, handle unfroze and water flowing. Having no water in a barn helps put other problems in perspective.  The freeze up was caused by leaving a garden hose, with nozzle, attached to the spigot when turning off the water.  It just created a vacuum and wouldn't let the water drain like it was supposed to.  I was using the hose to fill the water tubs.  My new temporary solution is to use a two valve "Y" fitting so that I can shut off the connection to the hose and then open the other valve to let air down the hydrant so it will drain promptly.  Ah the things I learn.  Usually one freeze-up too late.

This was a result of not turning off an outside water line.

Missed the checklist.  Fortunately, Jo-Ann noticed it and managed to turn off the inside valve that was feeding the outside line.  The new attraction on the hill: The Giganto Ice Falls, narrowly averted.  We also had one other freeze-up with the water line to the chicken shed.  The maintenance guy had disconnected the heat tape, and exacerbated the problem by forgetting to close the chicken door.  Fortunately, getting a brisk fire going in the wood heater and connecting said disconnection gave us running water in a couple of hours. Lesson learned?  We'll see.

Finally managed to get the electrician to work in the barn.  He's installing waterproof lighting and outlets.  In between other chores so it might just take a while to get everything all lit up!  With all the dark time, an outside light is high on the list.

The pigs are sure enjoying the new digs.  If it gets in the -20's I can put a little propane heater on to take the chill off. Prior to the electrician getting some quartz infrared heaters happening.

Does this hay make my butt look too big? 
The puppies seem to be adapting well.  Afternoon naps, after bone time, are frequent. They're still sleeping in the shop at night, awaiting their heated dog houses.

We spent one day cutting up Belgian Blue beef (and one more day unthawing 40 feet of frozen water line. Getting good at that!).  We got to use our new roller table to move the quarters around.  Getting too old to wreck my back. This thing adjusts to whatever height I need - a real back saver.  About three more and I can almost pile wood with them!

These are Flintstone chops! Almost three inches thick! Perfect for a summer's barbecue.   If we can wait that long.

Here's what happens when you forget to clear off the hood air inlet and have the heater on.  Instant snow storm inside the Jeep.

Hope someone holds you in their heart!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It Must Be Winter: The Waters Frozen

Just had our first foray into the -20c's.  Of course the new water Hydrant we installed in the refurbished barn froze up this morning.  Apparently everyone on the planet but me knew that leaving a hose on a hydrant will cause it to freeze up. Ah well, off to town in a snowstorm to get some heating cable then I will disassemble the thing and give it the hot water treatment.  I am pretty sure it's not a drainage problem because we took great pains to make a 10 foot long drainage path.  Well we'll see.  That kind of problem disappears in Spring - and that's only six months away!

The Pups and Hurley seem to really like the snow.  We just gave Xena heck for climbing on the wood pile and when we turned around here's Hurley and the Pups:

Haven't been doing any blogging lately.  A dry spell.  We've been busier than a couple of cats trying to burry scat on a marble table top. Getting the New Barn operational and the winter wood project consumed quite a bit of time.  But mostly it's that I've just felt like I didn't have too much to say or post.

We store six 1100 pound bags of feed in a stall in the barn and to get them in we had to install a bigger door.

 We off load them onto pallets, use a skidsteer to get the pallets to the barn and then shuffle them around with a pallet lifter.

We made four stalls with four foot gates on them.  They are made out of salvaged "D" logs from a log home. Sturdy and hard to beat the price.

We've got three pigs ready to go to market. I want to process these ones myself.  Including the hams.  Well, ones for us and the others are for a couple of friends. We're wintering Five sows and a Boar, with a little weiner purebred Berkshire who we may keep as a boar.  Time will tell.

I have heard some great things about the Berkies.  He's seperate from the others for a while.  He needs to be a bit bigger to hold his own.

Don't know if you can make out the guillotine door at the right.  a rope and pulley means we don't have to go in the pen to let the boys and girls out..Of course the biggest oinker we have around here got to make the inaugural entrance! 

We also have a Belgian Blue beef hanging in the cooler.  I was practicing with a vacuum pack machine.

 We were going to cut the beef up tomorrow, but first things first being getting the water flowing.  Carrying five gallon buckets of water a hundred yards loses it's fascination really quickly.  The pigs are going through 30 gallons of water  a day.
"Ha, Ha, he's so new he doesn't know he's not supposed to pee in the water"

Ah sometimes at the end of the day it's just nice to snuggle up with a friend and a cup of tea!

Hope you got yours!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

How Much Wood Can a Wood Chuck Chuck

Yep it's that time of year again.  We've even left if a bit late in the season.  The Barn project and a trip to the Coast and Okanagan valley put us a few weeks behind.  But were on it now.  We met an orchardist in Summerland who is willing to trade apples for pork.  The trip was made possible because some wonderful friends of ours came and farm set for the week we were away.

 A great deal but I will need some cold storage for a couple of tons of apples. Maybe this year but I doubt it.  So many projects, so few strapping sons!

  Those boxes are full of apples.  He sells directly to the public for 50 ¢  / lb. And gets a whole lot less for anything that goes to the processing plant.  I don't think the pigs will mind damaged or windfall fruit.

I am pretty sure this one was snuck into a packing box by an Auntie who will go un named.  But you know who you are - and I don't remember paying for this one!  Is that the reason your the only person the orchardist knows who can get 30 lbs of apples in a twenty pound box?

 Fortunately,  Jo-Ann remembers where all the controls are on the skid steer are and was soon swinging logs like, well, a logger!

We cut up a pile of ceder siding for kindling.  Nothing better to start a fire.

We have a bunch of trees blown down by the wind this year. The trees are drying out and we had some 75mph gusts a week ago.

 A sign that the beetle killed pine is reaching the end of it's usefulness.  The trees are starting to crack which can make cutting them somewhat precarious.  Maybe next year I will fall the whole ten acres and just pile them up for cutting as we need them.

Absolutely wonderful weather for it.  Once the morning fog lifts it is a glorious day. 

 We still have wood left over from last year so this falls efforts won't have to be quite so much.  Another eight cords of wood and we'll be all snuggly for the winter.  I have a remodeled barn but don't know if I'll have to heat it as its a log barn that has had a foot of insulation added to the inside.
The four foot wall is made of solid house building "D" logs.  Think four by six's with a natural side.  Pig strong.  But this project is on hold while we get the wood and garden in.  We still have some zucchini and turnips and carrots to bring in. 

Ah well, we've got the supper soup on so time to make a little firewood.  Hope your enjoying a great fall.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Some Where Over The Rainbow

Astonishing double rainbow just moments after a fall rainstorm blew threw.  Just happened to look out the window.  I could actually see where the rainbow touched the fields.

Went up to Grandmas yesterday and found an inch of water on the floor.  The hot water tank gave up it's last breath and packed it in.  Of course this was just after having both elements replaced.  Ah well that will teach me to disobey the hair on the back of my neck.  Standing beside me when I opened the door was Son in Law Kevin who used to be in the disaster recovery business.  Inside the house was a snow shovel, mop and a wet-dry vacum.  Didn't take to long to dry out.  Especially with a couple four fans blowing air out the windows.

Daughter Sara and Kevin and granddaughter Sophie were up for a visit. What a great time.

She's not old enough to drive the family car but surely she is old enough to start practicing with the tractor..

And the new worlds record at our place for bare back sheep riding is almost 20 seconds!

We had to put row covers on the zucchini and squash as they got touched by frost last night.  Well I guess the end of August does mark the beginning of September.

Back into the Barn today getting that project ready before we start the winter wood logging operation.  Next steps: Chinking the logs, cutting a hog door, installing Tyvec house wrap on the inside before studding for plywood walls.

Hope your week is wonder full.  And you get to have some fun with the pack!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hold Your Water

Back on the barn rebuild project.  Adding water and a conduit for power. Not having to lug water or use a flashlight makes a world of difference to a barn. Especially when it's forty below!  Being able to heat the stalls should make an easier time for winter arrivals.  It was some of the hardest digging we've done on the place - six feet down, the bottom three feet rock hard compacted clay.  I am seriously thinking of making my own bricks!
Tough digging even with a mini excavator. 

Water in the Barn!

My friend Dan from the Coast came up for a vacation.  Some vacation!  He jumped into the project list and we've made some great progress.

Hurley, the Pyrenees giving instructions to brother tom and Dan.

Dan filling the Piggy Pool
While we were backfilling ditches we came across some treasures: a couple of four foot steel wheels!  They are now gracing the house gate. We added two remnants of an earlier era on the farm. They are the back end of  sickle mowers, the wooden parts and blades long gone, yet the wheels still turn.  Sturdy cast iron construction, one of the mowers a John Deere.

Of course, the real yard Boss showed up to check out the placement of some found treasures.

We took a day off and went exploring for Tetzalto Mountain.  I spotted it years ago on Google Maps and we finally made it over 75 kilometers of logging road.  Some of them active, some barely discernable.  An astonishing lump of volcanic rock. Reminiscent of Ayers Rock in Australia.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately)  the only way to get a perfect view is by hiking or using a kayak on Babine Lake.
The best view we could get without strapping on the hiking boots

It would be a pretty tough climb!

We stopped at an old barge landing on Babine Lake and Dan, like a duck to water, couldn't resist trying it out.
going to miss these warm summer days!

Pigs will root.  They have managed to root a berm up against the fence line Shorting out the bottom electric wire.
Pssst, buddy, pass us the keys..

Lucy, trying to tunnel into the pen
Hope you find some treasures in your life this week!