Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7, 2017

Finally, our wood stove is installed.  You ever do something that really doesn't take long, but it is so challenging it seemed like it took forever?  I would land our wood stove in that category.  The main thing that made it so challenging was my husband insisted on doing it himself (with me as the general helper and gopher), and it was done on our 12/12 pitch roof which is very steep.  Since it was on the side of the house with the walk out basement, it was also two stories up.  He also did it with rudimentary equipment, using a 75 foot rope tied to the beam of our front porch and thrown over the roof to tie around himself so he could work on the incline and use two hands.  We were both quite stressed out when he was up there.  Of course being the gopher sending things up in a bucket or climbing up on the ladder with items falling in your direction was a little scary as well.  Honestly the short days this time of year did not help.  Imagine not only the challenges I mentioned before, but doing it with a headlight on your head when you are still working after dark at the end of a work day.  Once we got the right adapter, that part went in well.  I think the harder part was putting in the extension bracket to hold up our tall chimney since it had to extend two feet above anything within a ten foot diameter.  Another challenge was finding the roof rafters to nail in the pieces to that attach to the extension bracket for a solid hold.  Then everything had to be caulked in anticipation of the rain that is supposed to be coming all this week.  Anyway, we are looking forward to being able to watch the fire in the wood stove on a cool evening and enjoying relatively free heat.  Thanks so much to our friend Don who let us borrow the roof scaffolding, as it made a great place to set tools, provided something to stand on, and provided an extra stop should my husband happen to fall.  We also borrowed the ladder stabilizer from Don.  What a great friend and neighbor!

I finished one more thing on our to do list that has been waiting for a few years to get finished.  That was the last part of the rails for the stairs from our back deck.  Yay!!  Off the list.  I didn't realize that lifting the drill and impact over my head all afternoon would effect my shoulder so badly (Thanks so much honey for all you do for us!).  To add insult to injury (literally), when I was putting in the last screw, a yellow jacket came and stung me on the same shoulder.  I am still glad I accomplished it.  Pushing myself to new challenges makes me feel really good about myself.

Part of my weekly routine is getting together stuff for my husband's lunches and to go breakfasts.  Every week, I make bread for sandwiches, a dessert, and usually some kind of muffins that I keep in the refrigerator ready for each day of the week.  It is so nice to have this in routine fashion so I don't have to make a decision every day.  Often, I lay out all his usual lunch dishes, then proceed with filling each one, which makes it pretty easy to put it together in the mornings even before your coffee has activated.  I made a cloth lunch bag just the right size to fit all of his lunch containers and have long enough handles so it could be hands free when draped over the arm.  The upholstery fabric and french seams made it very durable, so it has lasted about 8 years so far.  If you think about it and you take it to work every day from age 20 to 65 instead of going to Starbucks for coffee ($2.61 or more vs. $.20), McDonalds for breakfast ($6.39 vs. $.12), and out to lunch with co-workers ($10 vs. $1.00), you will save an average of  $17.68 per day, $388.96 per month, $4,667.52 per year, and $210,038.40 over your lifetime of working, enough to pay cash for a fairly nice house.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 31, 2017

Always stuff to do.  We have been working on installing the wood stove, had finished the interior work and were planning to do the exterior work.  After cutting the hole in the roof, we found we did not have the right adapter for a 12/12 pitch roof and no amount of finagling could alter the one we had without us worrying about leakage, so we had to stop and order the right piece, and will have to put it off for another week.  A construction garbage bag served as a temporary method of stopping leaks from happening.

I tried my hand at freezing eggs.  Thanks to the ladies at Off Grid and Homesteading Ladies Facebook page, I learned that I needed to scramble the yolks.  I froze them in muffin tins so I would be able to get out 1 egg at a time once I switched them to a freezer bag.  The picture shows them just before I took a fork and scrambled the yolks.  Often during the winter when there is less light and the chickens are molting, our egg production slows down or stops.

I designed and painted a barn quilt for our barn.  None of the traditional ones seem to fit us, so I made our heart and grape design in a geometric pattern.  Here's an in-progress look at it.  I still need to frame it and put it up on the barn.  It's 3 feet by 3 feet.

We are finished with painting the body of the barn and priming the trim.  I was able to do most of it, but when I got to the very high parts, my courageous husband took over on the extension ladder to help finish it.  Now I have got to finish the trim in a semi gloss, but I'm taking a break due to the fact that going up and down the ladders seems to have made my knees really sore.

We got together with our Dinner for Eight friends and had a great time at the Dunbars where their home really is their castle.  Here is a picture of their dungeon.  Since the dinner was Halloween themed, I volunteered to bring ice cream Sundaes with chocolate mice on top (made from long stemmed maraschino cherries dipped in chocolate, Hershey kisses, sliced almond ears, and frosting eyes.)

We took our Black Angus steer to the processor in our horse trailer.  He was not happy to be in there and busted out both of our windows (or perhaps it would have been smarter of us to open them first.)  Thankfully they were plastic so they didn't hurt him.  We were concerned at one point that he would push the window trim right off and the whole thing would land on someone behind us.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  The trailer was a mess when we brought it home and had to be cleaned.  The pressure washer makes quick work of that.  If you have any billiard skills, that would also come in handy, because if you can calculate where the water is going to land when you spray it and it ricochets off the sides, you might end up with a lot less muck on you.  I never was very good at that.

Being the fall, it is a great time to plant trees.  We have planted eight of them this past weekend:  magnolia (part of our winter windbreak plan), a hybrid chestnut, a Blackyork Cherry, a Blackgold Cherry, an Oracle Almond, a Hardy Giant Pecan, and two Surecrop Pecans.  The Magnolia we got from my mom and the hybrid chestnut we bought on clearance when it was dead looking for a few dollars and brought them home to put in the shade under our deck where we had easy access to water and my husband watered them during their first summer.  The rest we got at a local Southern States that had some very large trees.  We have found that the more mature they are, the less likely they will die and we will have to replant them.