Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another not very important DIY project done

So, I figured out how to cut wine bottles by holding my glass cutter in my vice, which is turned sideways and towards the bench.  I then also added a vertical and horizontal guide by nailing bits of wood onto the bench top.  Here you can see the set up with a freshly scratched bottle. 

Then I boil the bottles over the fire to heat them up, and then pour out the hot water, plunge them quickly into ice water for 5 seconds, pull out and give a tap with a piece of wood, and they break cleanly.  Then it's just some time with the belt sander and then cleaning them up.   Got so I did 7 $2 chuck bottles that turned out well.  No more buying drinking glasses! 
and yes, that is a mint julep on the rocks - we had left over humming bird food. what else am I supposed to to do with it?? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thar be Chickens Here!

Well, we took the plunge. The neighbors brought over 5 chickens. 1 young rooster, 1 under a year old hen, and 3 full grown layers.  There's 4 black and one brown.  The rooster and pullet (young hen) are siblings, and have both greenish and 'golden' tinges.   They are part Silkie, part Cornish, and part Wyandotte. 

The brown one is more independent (had to take a separate photo) but definitely willing to stand up for herself.  The neighbors say that she was actually treated like a pet when she was little (let into the house and such) 
 These photos also show the 'forest floor' sort of area we're pasturing them in.  I'm hoping they can find all sorts of good stuff to eat, and over time, to a bit to keep the brush down.  As of right now in this first week of settling in, we're getting about 1 egg a day.  I will need to buy some supplement stuff so that if they are lacking anything they can get it with that. 

Mystery Squash?

Well, this will be interesting. I thought this was a butternut squash plant, but I didn't bother to look up to see if squash seeds grow 'true' to their seed plant or not.  Or perhaps winter squash also does cross pollination breed.  We'll see.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Well, I've taken the next step towards authentic/DIY/crazy.  I've decided to get back into the sourdough experiment.  I tried once, here on the mountain, years ago, and did a bad job of it. This time, I did some real (online) research, followed directions, and got things underway.  The first loaf (from the earth oven):
It's a bit flatter than I'd like, but I only did a 'counter' rise, rather than a bowl or basket.  Still, the crust came out a bit nicer than my regular bread, and it does taste like sourdough, that's for sure! It might be too sour for my taste, but Melissa loves it. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Introducing the Chicken Shack!

After a lot of thought, and reading a lot of stuff from this site http://www.richsoil.com/raising-chickens.jsp , I decided to take the plunge and build a mobile chicken coop.  Not exactly a 'chicken tractor', as people sometimes call them, but a mobile mini coop, that will house chickens at night, and after they pick around a fenced in area around the coop for a few days, move the coop and the fence to a new area and let them pick at that.   The idea is to have them eat 100% wild -bugs and greens -, rather than buying them food.  Here's the outside of the shack with the door closed.

Cute little ramp that the door turns into. Note the double locking system of the pin on a string and the turn latch at the top center of the doorway.  The vents are covered with hardware (1/4") screen.

Interior, looking down on the roost and 3 nesting boxes. (the roof lifts up for easy access):

the nest boxes, all made from scrap stuff, of course. Everything lifts out for easy cleaning. 

and the roost, with its litter box, which will make for easy cleaning and adding to the compost pile!

a good use for empty dog food bags

I finally found a way to re-use those big 50lb bags that dog food comes in.  They are plastic coated paper, so they shouldn't be burned, and yet they're so big they take up tons of room... plus that coating and all that material just seems like they should be worth something. 

If you're like us and put your dog food into a different container than the bag (we use an old fermentation crock from Redwing, MN)

You have these empty bags.  I figured out that if you cut them open along the side - the long side - after cutting open the top in the typical way to pour it out, I inverted the bag so the shiny part was inside and stapled up the short end with a typical office stapler.  Then I filled it with dirt and added a squash plant! 
It's working really well.  it's not water tight, but that's not what you want anyway.  I inverted it in part because I didn't want the label showing.  We do all container gardening to save the water and keep things away from the gophers, so this is perfect.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is what a pick up truck of concrete looks like stacked up.  As you can see from the gravel it's on, there's still a pretty big area to cover.

My bread is not turning out exactly how I want. I think that my oven is too hot.  It's very tasty, and gets a good amount of bounce in the oven, but I think the crust is getting set before the inside can fully rise, leaving a doughy center.  you can see the stuff that's too gooey at the bottom of this sliced loaf.   I need to figure this out.  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Nice patio shade

Here's the patio with 3 bamboo garden fences as roofing. Works pretty well, I think.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Product and Company Endorsement

This is, I think, a first for this blog, but I just thought it was worthy.  I want to give an endorsement to the company Camping Survival/JHL Supply for having the best prices on para-cord that I could find on the internet. 

I ordered 1000' a while back and it's just the best to have it around.  The stuff on their site is the real deal, with the 7 strands of 100% nylon.

And actually, I want to throw down my philosophy that every household should have a spool of this stuff.  As someone who uses rope and string regularly, it's an amazingly comforting feeling to know I have a lifetime supply on hand.  I just ordered some for a friend as a gift. Get yourself some!

Cabin shower pan getting in place

Actually, kind of happy about this progress.  It needed to be up so the drain trap will fit.