Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Veteran's Day

I’m back at work now recovering from my day off. Man, if I worked as hard here everyday as I do at home, I would never gain weight. The way it is, I work super hard on my days off, then my muscles hurt for days afterward…

We had blocked off my Veterans Day off as the day to clean out the chicken house really thoroughly before winter, do some patching and repairing, etc. Steven wanted to get all the litter and manure spread on the garden, too, before the predicted rain (that never rained). So we got up early and had breakfast, then started right away on the chicken house. It was cloudy and kinda misty in the morning. We chased the chickens out, and put the nesting box outside of the house near the door they use. Then proceeded to get all the gunk shoveled off the floor. That was many, many wheelbarrows full. We wanted to do a really good job, so that meant once we got the main part out, using scrapers to get anything stuck to the floor from years of us just changing litter without doing that.

Chickens are really dumb, did you know that? Even though we put the nesting box by the door, this chicken would come into the house while we were working on it, and literally throw herself up against the wall where the nesting box used to be. “Duh! Don’t you see it’s not there?” We finally had to move the nesting box back inside and just work around it because they were freakin’ out.

There are holes all over the chicken house floor from where the rats have chewed up from underneath (the flooring is tongue-n-groove 1 x 6 oak – the house was made to be portable and was on runners, but pretty much the earth has filled in underneath (it’s almost 60 years old) and the rats' nest under and chew up the floor to get to the chicken grain.) In the past I have put small pieces of tin over the holes, but now the holes are bigger, and, as Steven points out, the more we cover the holes, they are just going to make new ones. We pretty much agreed to handle it the way we have most lately – just leave one of our mouser-cats in the chicken house at night when we lock them up. There are two cats that have done an excellent job with this, and I think they have pretty much wiped out the rat population that used to be there. The chickens don’t mind the cats, and they ignore the chickens, so it works.

We went to the hardware store to see about getting pieces of sheet metal to cover some of the worst areas, but choked at the price. A little 2’ x 3’ piece of sheet metal is over $20!! So we passed on that, and came back home and used wood we had around to fix some of the problem boards and shore up some areas. We hosed down the whole inside really well and let it dry; then put in new bedding and everything else. We put in a different roost (one we had picked up from the neighbor’s house before they auctioned it) because it was much better built than ours. I wanted to cut it down a bit because it is much bigger, but Steven didn’t want to, so we made it work. Then we patched up the north side, put plastic around to winterize it, and called it good. That took almost the entire day. It was getting on toward evening, and Steven had decided when we got this project done, he wanted to go fishing, because we hadn’t been to the ponds to fish yet this year! (have been down there several times, but not fishing). So he rushed through the last of our job to get it done while still light.

Then he loaded the truck and we went down to the ponds. Of course, during the middle of the day the front had come through and it was quite a bit colder, with a north wind, but that meant the barometric pressure was good for fishing. The ponds have drastically changed since the flood this past spring, and I don’t know how much longer then will be viable. But we got bites the minute we cast out our lures. I ended up catching three small bass, and Steven, two, but only two overall were really big enough to keep (and that may have been questionable in some people’s minds – but we were hungry, so we were desperate). So we had a couple medium large-mouth bass for supper. It was pitch black by the time we drove home to fix them, though, and I was really beat tired. Tried to teach Steven how to clean the fish, and realized we don’t have a decently sharp knife anywhere in the place, so I really kinda mutilated it. But he got the idea.

Saturday we had spent the day tilling the garden (although it was basically dust); doing some jobs with the tractor, and grazing the goats out. We tried to graze the goats out on Monday while working on the chicken house, but they are just too curious for their own good. They kept coming over and bugging us and coming in the house, and didn't really seem interested in grazing much of anywhere, so we put them back in the pen.

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