Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another busy weekend

Eggs - in all colors!

Once again, I'm posting only occasionally. I appologize to anyone who is truly reading here and I'll try to do better. I do have about 10 posts started or outlined that I just haven't had time to write, so one day, you'll probably be innundated!

Until then, let me post a quick run-down on the things we did this weekend.

First of all, we started Saturday with a trip to HD to pick up some supplies. We had four main things on our list for the weekend and three of them required some inputs. First of all, we wanted to get some seed started with grow lights in the basement. Secondly, we wanted to insulate the hot water pipes in the house. Thirdly, we wanted to take down and store away all our Christmas decorations (finally!) and lastly, we wanted to get a new rain shelter built for the goats.

The first item was pipe insulation. We purchased ~70 ft of foam insulation. One major advantage to a single-story older home with a basement is that everything is easy access. All of the electrical, heating and water pipes all run along the ceiling of our basement which is below the floorboards of our house. The hot water heater and the oil furnace are both also in the basement and easy (relatively) to access. So to insulate all the hot water pipes, all we had to do was run hot water in the various locations to determine which pipe held hot water (by touch) and the wrap them with this foam. We'd thought about using some more home-made type of insluation, but we don't know enough about that stuff to avoid setting fires or something. We figured we'd be better off using something designed specifically for that purpose. Now, when we shower, we aren't losing a bunch of the heat off the pipes in the basement and it's saving us energy! (I'll take photos tonight)

Secondly, we wanted to get some seed started. It's a bit too early to prep for outside planting, but now that we have a greenhouse to work with, we wanted to do some experimenting. My H did some online reading about setting up a grow light using the old flourescent lamps we had in our basement. He rewired one, hung it about 18 inches above the work bench, and plugged it into a timer that will be set to simulate a summer day's worth of light. We'd bought a seed starting kit last year when we were in the apartment, but never attended it very well and killed everything we tried to grow. So my H pulled that out and cleaned it up to try again this year. He planted leeks, onions, kale, celeriac and multiple types of peppers and tomatoes. Then he set the bin on top of a heating pad set on low to keep the soil warm. We were all excited about the progress until we noticed that the heating pad had shut off. Damn thing has an auto-shut-off! Great for fire prevention...not great for seed germination. Now we need to locate one that doesn't have this lovely safety feature. Anyone have an old heating pad they don't want? ;-)

Next, I took it upon myself to build some additional shelter for our goats. When it rains, they basically spend the entire day standing in their little goat shed. Buddy doesn't like to get wet and while Sass doesn't seem to mind it, she'd rather stay dry if she can. I saw an idea for this shelter online and decided that it would not only suit our rainy day needs, but it will help us with kidding this year. It's a Quonset hut made with cattle panels and a tarp. For less than $100, I built the shelter in the picture with materials that all will have multiple uses once we no longer need the shelter. This was a perfect solution for us because we needed something temporary. Our plans are to build a real stable/small barn next summer when there is less rain and when we have more cash. With kids on the way, we needed something for this spring because our current goat shed is too small. We will also need a way to keep the new kids separate from Sass at night, so this should work. The shelter stands in the southeast corner of our paddock and it faces west. (Winter rain comes from the south here, so souther facing shelters are not a good idea!) Our plan is to use additional cattle panels and t-posts to fence in the area surrounding the shelter as we head into March. Sasafras will then be contained in this area as she approaches her due date so that the kids are born into a fairly clean/mud-free environment. Then Sass and the kids will be kept in this pen for the first few days so that they can bond. Additionally, the kids will go into this area each night so that Sass will get a good night's sleep and (more importantly) so that we can milk her in the morning for our use. Then they will spend the day together. We will not bottle feed the kids as we don't feel that is 'natural'...and who has the time for that, anyway?! The hut turned out really well and outside from a sore back and triceps, I was no worse for the wear!

First: the t-posts get placed and sunk into the ground (note to self: do all fencing in the winter when the ground is MUCH softer than it is in the arid summer!)

Second: the first cattle panel gets put in place (these are 16' by 50")

Third: the second panel goes into place - this was not as easy as it looks!

Fourth: the panels get attached using zip ties.

Fifth: the tarp goes on and gets zip-tied to the panels

Lastly: the finished product!

Directions: http://goatseeker.com/guides/quonset-hut-goat-shelters

Lastly, I packed up all the Christmas decorations we'd put up this year. Because I chose to donate or sell all the decorations we didn't use, packing everything up was pretty simple. Now it's all safely tucked away in the basement for next year. We also moved the chicken coop again, trimmed the goat's hooves, put up blinds in our bedroom and our bathroom finally (that's the advantage to country living...no neigbors to look in our windows!) and I baked another loaf of bread and some rolls to throw in the freezer. We also did some re-arranging of our worm bin. I don't think that I've posted about it before, but my husband began our vermicomposting a few weeks ago in a big bucket. This past weekend, we changed our bin a little and I'll have a seperate post about that...so stay tuned.
All in all, we had a nicely productive weekend!

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