Friday, January 31, 2014

Video tries

I'm going to try to post a couple of videos to see how they work. Don't watch them if you are subject to motion sickness. This is only a test.

Snow day

There must be seven or eight inches of snow out there, and the sky has patches of vivid blue.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bunnies on the loose

C. went to feed the rabbits today, and found the little guys bopping around the room. They've left the nest box for adventure and solid food. Left, the little grey/fawn one (working name Plum) meets her dad. He was quite interested.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I think they're all girls

The little bunnies. I read you can tell when they are three to four weeks old, so I gave it a try. It's not easy with bifocals in a poorly lit room when they are so tiny, but that's my best guess.

Below, I'm quaking in my big snow boots as the scary mama rabbit checks me out. No, really. She is fierce.

Bottom, the little fawn girl thinks about hopping out of the nest box while Chrys fixes me with a laser eye.

She was a (mostly) good dog

We said goodbye to Badeaux today. Twelve years ago we picked her out of a litter of 10 red bone coon hound/lab mix pups at the shelter. She was the prettiest. Our old dachshunds raised her up and tried to teach her to be brave, but she didn't have it in her. She was afraid of parked cars, cardboard boxes, loud noises, fireworks, thunder.... She spent every July 4 in a corner of the bathroom, panting and quivering.

I changed the headline to mostly good, because I remember now she did bite people. Just three, or maybe four, and only hard enough to bruise. And she did remove Jack's eye (he never forgave her). She was energetic, protective and a little squirrelly.

She loved sniffing around in the woods when we went huckleberry picking. And she loved her home-cooked dinners. She humored us by playing "Got Your Nose." She romped like a pup until she came down with hideous monster mouth cancer just a few months ago.

On her last day she had ice cream and wieners, and we fed her bits of Lindors chocolates while we waited for the vet to come. Why the hell not?

I'll miss you, Ba-doofus. Ba-dingleberry. Ba-diddlehopper. Ba-doober.

Above, her baby picture as she stands head and shoulders above the rest of the team. :) That's, from left, Debbie, Mikki, Badeaux and Lulu (one of the seven great dogs). Below, she's playing with Rosebud, another of the seven. And below that, she's on the kids' porch with Jeep.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Three-week-old bunnies!

And they are absolutely charming. We pulled the nest box out (after bribing mama Chrys with cashews) and the little guys came to the front of the box. Chrys gave us about two minutes with the babies before she got crabby and kicked us out.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Domesticated mushrooms, and wood

The Fungi Perfecti mushroom kit is fruiting again. The first shot is from Thursday, the second, Friday. They grow a  lot in a day! We had one last night on open-faced sandwiches, broiled with cheese and sweet onions on homemade wheat bread. Mmmm.

Em and KC came up and we got another month of wood from our favorite DNR spot. We broke in the new Jonsered saw. Em says it goes through wood like buttah. Our old one (bought used on Ebay) turned out to be seriously dead.


KC cleaned the creosote out of the chimney topper, below. Em spent some time with the baby bunnies, and with Badeaux, our big red dog who doesn't have much time left. It was a good day.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The plan for Year 2

This is easy. We just want to do everything that hasn't been done yet, bringing the place to perfection by Jan. 31, 2015. Snort.

The garden (our big success)
• Expand it. Most of the fencing is in place. We need to extend the terraces, dig out giant rocks, quack grass and knapweed, add compost and mulch. We want to grow more greens and roots for the animals, more staples for us.
• Create a watering system. Dragging hoses around sucks.
• Fit out the basement for veg storage. It's too damn cold here for storing root crops in their garden beds.
• Start a small orchard and berry patch. I made a tiny start last year, but the sheep put a stop to it. I want Stanley prune-plums, apricots, apples, and raspberries and blackberries.
• Move the mushroom kit outside and try to establish a wine-cap patch.
• Divert one of the roof drains to rain barrels to water the greenhouse.
The greenhouse is a temporary setup, but works OK for now.

The animals
• Fence another pasture for the big animals to minimize parasite exposure.
• Add a porch to the chicken house.
• Figure out how keep chickens out of the garden.

The building
• Install the electric furnaces and ductwork to keep the studios, hall and bathroom at least 50 degrees.

C.'s studio
• Fit out the closet for heavy fabric storage
• Move the hall electric heater in there. Wood heat is too dirty for all the fabric/fleeces/fuzz.

My studio
• Patch the roof-drain leak
• Fix the lights and outlets
• Install one of the spare wood stoves
• Tear out the busted vinyl windows and idiotic framing and install... a mosaic of old small-pane wood windows? Have to have some welding done for a frame for them. Can we afford vintage metal-frame windows from Tormino's? Probably not.

Have fun
• Go mushrooming and woods-walking. Take Kewpie to Elk Park. Bring the canoe up, and take it out once in a while.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A year (nearly) on Old School Acres

My to-do list is downright scary. It never seems to get shorter, and I can't look anywhere around the place without pangs of guilt. The animals need this, the garden needs that, the gym... the studio.... The hallway still has particle board on the floor, the living area STILL has plastic instead of doors, yada yada.

The truth is there is enough work around here for 15 years (20 for the ancient slow-motion carpenter), but that doesn't mean we haven't done a lot. So while I'm planning next year's priorities, I want to celebrate last year's accomplishments.

The place became ours Jan. 31, 2013. We moved in about three weeks later. And over the last year (in addition to surviving) we – with the help of family and friends – have:
• Moved 27-plus years of stuff from the Ancestral Home (this was a massive undertaking that involved many trips in rented trucks and many family members and many hours and is still not completely finished)
• Fenced, terraced, dug, de-rocked, de-knapweeded, de-quackgrassed, planted and harvested an amazing, BIG garden (this was the big accomplishment of the year – C. did most of it, and Richard did a whole lot of rototilling)
• Canned, dried and froze many, many pounds of food from that garden (C. again)
• Installed an awesome wood stove (with the biggest legal firebox you can buy)
• Fenced a pasture for the big animals
• Fenced two yards for the dogs
• Built a chicken house
• Fixed up the old barn for the big animals (and the two chickens who insist on laying out there instead of their perfectly nice chicken house) (Richard, Emma, KC, Cullen and KiSong did this)
• Had some of the roof redone (there are still some issues, but several areas are brand new)
• Got the basic systems up and running: fixed frozen pipes, replaced some faucets and water-heater elements (thanks, Tom), capped off the crazy buried irrigation pipe that was sucking all the water out of the house system, rootered out the lines to the septic tank, patched some of the vandalized electrical system, replaced glass in some doors and windows
• Hauled supplies for future projects: 2,000 square feet of maple flooring from an old school (I nearly killed Richard with this), hundreds of feet of old picket fencing, a set of kitchen cabinets...

So when I'm feeling doomed, I'm going to look at this list and remind myself that we have accomplished quite a few things. Now, the list for next year.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January at the ranch

It's the middle of January, and the ground is bare except for icy spots in the shade (like the path from the north door to the barn and mailbox). Another warmish day – 35 degrees or so – and cold enough at night to put a skin of ice on the chicken water.

C. is plotting her seed purchases. We inventoried leftovers from last year – lots of tomatoes and squash, zero beans and greens. Unfortunately we can't buy more until payday at the end of the month. Hope our varieties aren't sold out.

The bunders keep growing fur and round bellies. The first guy is my favorite, with his fat head and belly, and ever-evolving coloring.

We read we're supposed to check them daily, and rub any full bellies to make them pee. I guess mom is supposed to do that, but we're the backup team. C. got peed on yesterday.

I ran power from an outlet in the locker room to the vacuum and beyond that to the wall. Cut three pipes out of the wall so I could use their channel for the cable. I do basic wiring but cuss the whole time. It's hard to get all that wire to fold back into the box when you're done. Either I am tragically weak, or there is a trick to it. I should go to YouTube and watch Big Tony for tips.

The two leghorn pullets are laying an egg every day now. Roz the Rhode Island red is a slacker.

Fritata for dinner. Mmm.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Long weekend in January

The bunnies are 11 days old and their eyes are nearly open. The black one is turning interesting colors – is he a chestnut agouti? A siamese sable? It's fun to watch and speculate.

I've got several projects started, and chip away at one or the other depending on the light and cold. Working on moving my Bullseye 10x10 sheets of fusible glass onto the funky metal shelf I found at a photographer's estate sale. The studio has stacks of glass all over, on top of tables, on the floor, still in boxes... it'll be great to have them all shelved by color and ready to use.

Can't find the damn plumber's epoxy putty to fix the leak in the roof drain pipe. Don't want to risk water damaging the electric box right under the drain so it'll stay dark in there until I find the dang putty or move the box – dumb place for it, anyway.

Spent some time organizing the disaster that is the tool zone in the gym. Not that you can tell.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New bunny pics

The bunnies aren't changing much from day to day, but their eyes should be opening soon and then they'll be bouncing around like magic beans. Below, at eight days. Bottom, nine days.

In other news, Badeaux isn't doing well. She perked up when the vet first gave her steroids and antibiotics, but it only lasted a couple of days. She still loves dinner and ice cream.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One week old

Chrys is very watchful, but seems OK with C. handling the babies (we bribed her with cashews). Aren't they something?

The fawn one has a very full tummy, and is getting a belly rub in the middle photo.

Earlier today C. found the blackish fellow with his neck all tangled in a tight felted twist of angora fiber. She freed him and he seems fine. The white one is a little skinny, so we'll need to watch him.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bunny trouble

We found two little guys cold and apparently dead in the new rabbit room this morning. They're in a drawer in the bathroom now, on a heating pad and covered with a cashmere sweater. No signs of life yet. They're probably dead, but we have to try.

We just moved everybody yesterday, when the melting snow and a roof leak made Lake Elk in the middle of the kindergarden room where the rabbits live. They're in Dracula's Bathroom (my sprout laboratory) now, a smaller, dry space that we can easily heat. Chrystal was upset by the move, and must have been taking the little ones to a new nest she'd started in the wall. She'd ripped a particle-board patch off a hole in the wall and pulled out the insulation. She's resourceful.

Shit happens, and we screw up. That's pretty much what I've learned over the years. Below, the surviving four. We'll be checking them every hour or so until Chrys seems to settle in.

I'm staying away from the rabbits for a while – Chrys growled at me when I went into check on the babies. She likes C. better.

I hung the central vacuum unit up in the old girl's locker room. Next, will extend the power from a nearby outlet. Then drilling and piping and drilling and piping. It's a big, involved job (at least when done by the slow-mo amateur carpenter). I've decided to run the lines through the attic rather than the unpleasant crawl space.

Went up on the roof to see the cause of all the leaking in the rabbit room. The rest of the roof is bare, thanks to the warm temperatures this weekend, but the area over the bun room is on the north and in the shade of the taller gym roof. It's covered with a couple of inches of ice and some wet snow. I cleared what I could – weird to be shoveling the roof – and half-exposed a fragile-looking area of old patches. I think the ice blocked the runoff from the upper area, and left the patched place puddled. I'll need to do some repairs when the rest of the area thaws and clears. Below, the January garden and the old hoop shelter for the big animals.

We'll need to bury the two little white bunnies (who did not come back to life).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Earl sings

OK, I've never posted a video before. Does it work?

This is Earl watching "Murder, She Wrote."

A wood day

Em and Richard came up, and we took advantage of a chinook wind melting the snow away to hit the usual spot and get some firewood. Em ran the saw, C. and I hauled and loaded six-foot lengths, and Richard carried whole trees out of the woods.

The saw crapped out on us, though, and C. (our chainsaw mechanic) said it was going to take some serious time to get it running. So we tied the long logs to the roof of the car and took our two nearly full loads home. Besides, the warm winds had gone cold and dismal.

And the bunnies turned four days old. Em and I dragged them briefly from their warm nest to get some better photos.

The guineas took to the roof and buckWHEATed furiously into the wind. I don't know why.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bunnies three days old

I forgot a flashlight, so I'm shooting into the dark nest box and hoping for the best. They are lively, making little "yeep" sounds and lunging around the nest. Chrys came over to see what I was doing with her babies.

The three white ones are really shiny and white from one angle, and pinky-naked from another.


Warm and snowy. Took the day off. Vet appointment for Badeaux. Dug the berm out at the gate, found a tire flat on the Subie, tried Fix-a-Flat but it was old. Changed the tire (spare is a donut, jack stuck in the holder, lugs stuck, cussed a lot. Feh.) Got to the vet 15 minutes late. Dr. Cassandra was really nice, as always. Badeaux has an aggressive mouth cancer, fibrosarcoma, no effective treatment. So she has steroids and antibiotics, and will have a few months before it interferes with breathing and swallowing. She's 12 and pretty spry, but it was starting to swell and hurt and irritate her eye. I'm grateful the vet didn't want to do surgery and try to get a few more months. Not worth it. Poor old Doober. We'll try to have some fun with her before she goes.

Haven't seen the bunders yet today. There's a leak in the roof drain over my studio door that I've been meaning to fix. The melting snow has made a mess there. Now I'll fix it AND clean up the mess. Procrastination, you are my master.

Making brownies. Wish Badeaux could have some.