Adventures, Chickens

The Coop Building Has Begun (Oops I forgot to publish this) from 2018

So, my whole body hurts and I am sunburned in weird places like the tops of my hands and the backs of my legs, but the chicken coop is starting to take shape. (Yes, I was nicely coated in sunblock and reapplied it several times, but I still burned.) Last weekend, we set the support posts into 3 foot holes, which I dug rather crookedly and we didn’t notice until after the posts were set.

I hate Oklahoma clay when digging is involved. Those holes may not look like much, but it was similar to digging through rock with a shovel. Hubby kindly explained, after I finished digging, that it’s easier to dig if you dump water in the holes. I worked really hard on those holes. It killed me when he told me just how crooked they were.

I mean, seriously, that’s a LOT of dirt. The wheelbarrow is bigger than I am when it leans against the garage. I am 5 ft. 1 in. In height. This was a huge accomplishment for me.

Hubby also decided I needed shade after taking one look at me. I became a lobster rather quickly. Those posts are shockingly level. The ground is not level, but the support posts are level.

Once the posts had a chance to settle for a few days, we started building the coop to line up with my crooked posts. None of us wanted to dig new holes. So, the walls went up first.

Remember how I said I was going to frame it with pallets, well Hubby decided that he was taking over my project and went out and bought a ton of plywood. Also, remember how crooked that cut on the compost tumbler door was, you will know exactly which parts I cut as you continue through the pictures. I was fully supervised with the power tools and saws freak me out. I wore my gloves and safety glasses because I don’t want splinters in my eyeballs.

As the walls went up, Hubby was walking around the coop slowly asking me how I planned on roofing it. I explained I wanted a slant roof with a slight overhang and a gap between the walls and roof, which I would close off from predators with construction fabric or this roll of fencing that has 1 inch square holes. This roll of fencing is extremely thick and he’s guessing it is meant for goats. He was thrilled I didn’t want a normal roof. I don’t think he wanted to try to frame out my crooked little square building.

See how uneven the ground is? He made the coop door for the chickens rather large. His reasoning was, what if two chickens want to leave at the same time? I couldn’t argue with that reasoning. Please, don’t panic about those gaps. The floor has not been built yet and this coop will be safe from predators. We are burying fencing almost 2 ft. out from the building walls and the floor will start with concrete pavers and then, plywood on top of the pavers secured to the walls with those L-shaped brackets used for industrial shelving. There are a few reasons behind this flooring design, but the main reason is to keep the inside of the coop dry. Because of the slope, rainwater would run right through the coop. With the concrete pavers, there will be space for water to flow through, but the coop floor will not get wet. The pavers we are using are almost 6 inches thick. They will also deter predators who manage to get past the fencing while digging. We will also be digging out the floor a bit to make it level prior to installing pavers.

I wanted a rounded top door, but once I tried cutting it with the jigsaw, I got maybe an inch cut and told hubby to make it a triangle. (I draw crooked too 😂 He was not happy when he realized I drew a crooked triangle for him to cut out) I’m not sure if you can see it, but each wall is two pieces of plywood, stacked on top of each other. This was necessary because the coop itself is about 5 1/2 feet tall. I can comfortably walk through the door, but everyone else has to duck.

The triangular topped door has some 2×4 boards as support because a plywood door is kind of flimsy. There are also 2×4 boards on the inside around the doorway because he wanted to make sure an animal couldn’t pull the door off easily. Also, the door will have to withstand Oklahoma winds, which can be 70 mph and higher. My neighbors were outside while we were building. (You can see their house, which is an acre away, in the 7th picture.) Her hubby will be over next weekend to assist and learn (He has never built anything either) because his wife decided she wants chickens over on her property. So, he’s going to help and then, when he starts building, we will help them because they are fabulous neighbors. We don’t have any other neighbors aside from a concrete prefabrication place (which is a little bit south of us, past her property and across the street from her and I have the School’s Agricultural Farm north of me.) So, we always help each other out whenever help is needed.

Hubby lined up the t-posts for the run just to see how big he wanted it. He wants it to go to the first tree right next to the nose of the truck. I know what you are thinking, that’s way too short of a fence for chickens and they will jump or fly over it. Not to worry, the run will be fully enclosed. I am taking pvc piping and arching it over the run area then, I have two dump truck covers (they are heavy duty mesh material) and they will go over top of the pvc arches. The run will be fully enclosed and the cover will provide shade because it is black. If you have no idea what I am talking about, think of a dump truck hauling sand, rock, or gravel, they have a tarp like cover over their load. That’s what I am using. Hubby brings me home the coolest things. He works on diesel engines so, he has access to some weird stuff, like dump truck covers that have minor fraying at the edges and are no longer deemed safe by the company. They throw them away or let mechanics take them for projects such as my chicken coop and run. He also brings me blue plastic 55 gallon drums, pallets, and I have a dump truck liner as well. (I am using that for another project.)

In between the coop and the shed that needs a new floor and some other minor repairs, I am building a greenhouse. Eventually, the shed will also be a chicken coop with both coops sharing a run. One coop for meat birds and the other for laying hens. I have all sorts of projects planned. They just take time and money so, I am building them slowly. I am extremely grateful I have a husband who can weld, has tools, and while he laughs at me because of how bad I am at building things, he is always willing to help me so, my projects end up being useful instead of junk. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. I couldn’t even lift a sheet of plywood on my own. The kiddos (two adults and a 17 yr old) are also willing to sacrifice their weekends to help their Momma. Their reasoning is, “Momma, you never ask for anything so, when you ask for help, we are all going to help you.”

Our 21 yr old daughter’s boyfriend was extremely helpful because he can lift plywood sheets and he was happy to help. He’s looking forward to helping with the fencing because he does fencing as a side job. So, it will definitely be done right since he knows how to build fences.

An unrelated update, the horses we were boarding have moved to their new home. Their dad bought 20 acres after falling in love with the quiet on our property. He was so excited about owning his own land, but promised to bring them by for visits when he takes them to the park, where the rodeos are held (it’s a beautiful set of arenas) because it’s free to use. He also promised to give them their favorite treat once in a while. (Brown sugar and cinnamon poptarts) Yes, they are junk food as far as horses are concerned, but they were skittish and would run from him every time he came to feed and groom them. Then, I gave them each half of my poptarts and he would pull in and they would be at the gate by the time he got out of his vehicle. They got excited to see anyone. They mostly got apples, carrots, pears from the pear tree, and other fruits and veggies, but on rare occassions, I would either hand him the poptarts if he was trimming hooves, or bring them out myself. They have turned into extremely social horses and never run from him anymore. They were lovingly spoiled while here. All animals are spoiled here because I can’t help it, I have to spoil all of the animals.

I will continue to post updates on the chicken coop and run until it is completed. Then, the greenhouse build, and the updates to the shed. I will be ordering chicks from the hatchery once the last freeze date passes. (Mid to late May) I will be posting oodles of pictures. I have to find a way to tell them apart because the hens and single rooster will have names. Any suggestions for identifying chicks and being able to tell them apart prior to feathering out? I thought about coloring a wing with food coloring, but I would need multiple colors and I would feel bad because that may be a shock to their little systems seeing their wing blue or purple or whatever. What do you name a chicken anyway? I thought about the seven dwarves, snow white, the queen, and the rooster as the huntsman, but my daughter wants to make one or two of them. We may name them after Harry Potter characters. I have still not decided on a breed either. Any suggestions for both extreme high temps and low temps? I want hardy chickens that can survive in snow. I will insulate the coop once it’s fully built.

Until next time….

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Chickens

Ladies and Gentlemen We Have Cheep Cheeps.

I was a bit worried last month when I went to the local lumber store, which is a hardware store and asked when they were getting their chicks in, since I have no way to pick up chicks to be mailed now that hubby has changed his schedule. (I can’t drive for medical reasons.) The man who runs the hardware store is friends with hubby and I and he had terrible news. The main supplier of chicks for Oklahoma went out of business. We were calling everywhere and then, I received an email from Tractor Supply (an awesome little farm store) They were getting chicks on April 1st according to the email. I was giddy. Well we had to pick up Def fluid on Monday and we were already in Lawton so, we went to Tractor Supply because they carry Blue Def (Def is diesel exhaust fluid) So to explain this for anyone who has never had a diesel vehicle, Def fluid is burned off periodically and it clears out the buildup in the exhaust system. It smells funny when it happens. This is NOT the cause of diesel vehicles that pour black smoke from their exhaust. That is referred to as rolling coal and it is terrible for the engine. Anyway, we were in Tractor Supply and I heard cheeping. I honestly think hubby was more excited than I was, though he will NEVER admit that. I started picking out chicks being sure to pick most from the pullets and only four from the straight run chicks. I have a selection of Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex Links and Ameracauna (at least that’s what the paper sign said for Ameracauna) I am doubtful about the Ameracauna chicks, but we shall see when they are bigger. I got 15 chicks total and only four are straight run.

I have only named one chick. His/her name is Chicken Little because this was the smallest chick in any of the tubs and I wanted it. The guy looked at me like I was insane when I said I wanted the teeny tiny chick. They all have wing feathers so, I am uncertain of exactly how old they are. The guy who helped me guessed about 3-4 weeks.

Hubby took video of me taking them out of their little cardboard boxes.

I apologize for the red photos in advance. I didn’t want to use flash too much and traumatize them. All 15 are still doing great on day 3.

This is Chicken Little and I have some size comparison pictures. I will label those. Chicken Little is also in the first and second photo below.

Yes, I was careful where I put my hand. They are in an extra large dog crate with the plastic pan liner the cardboard is between the pan and the crate so it will not get wet.

Here are the size comparison pictures.

So tiny. 😍🐥🐤🐣

They were vaccinated at the hatchery and are currently drinking a mix of probiotics, electrolytes, and vitamins in their water.

Fizzgig is terrified of them and Gizmo is only mildly curious. Miss Mia has been coming downstairs before I wake up and sitting next to the crate to watch them. She gets upset when they start cheeping loudly and goes to check on them. I will try to get some clearer photos they are just so fast.

Until next time…

Chickens

Chicken Coop Updates

I didn’t take any photos because it started raining and we had to clean up quickly before we got soaked.

I will try to get some photos tomorrow if it doesn’t rain again. Today, after my appointment, which involved two cortisone injections in my lower back, Hubby decided we were going to work on the coop. Okay, I’m game. Let me tell you, I don’t regret getting it to the point we reached but, I do regret not icing my back while working on it. Ouch.

First, we secured the cover with more hose clamps, we still need a few more, but both sides are secure. Then, we buried a bit more heavy duty fencing around the perimeter of the run. That was fun. We also replaced the zip strips that were temporarily holding fencing in place with pieces of plastic coated metal (sort of like heavy duty twist ties.) Fencing is beyond secure. Then, we laid subflooring inside the coop. (I will explain this in a moment) finally we figured out how to close off the end of the coop securely without any gaps or any way for any possible predator to gain entrance. (Fencing overlapping bottom fencing and folded over the PVC arch, but under the cover and held in place with hose clamps and those super heavy duty twist ties at the bottom.

Okay, I’m going to explain the subflooring for those who haven’t been following along. (I am also going to add a few older pictures of the coop just for visual reference. I will get new ones as soon as I can.)

This is the coop prior to today’s additions.

(You will see the white fence I refer to very well in this picture and the coop itself up close.)

Notice how much shade the cover for the run provides. (The cover is a dump truck cover. Hubby rescued two destined for the garbage for me from work. He brings me home the neatest things. The PVC was inside of our well, but we replaced that with flex pipe last year. I of course kept all of the old PVC because I had a plan.)

The coop and run are at the very back of the back yard. Not the back of the property. We have a white metal pipe and cable fence that goes around what would be a normal sized back yard. We didn’t install this fence, it was here when we bought the house. I’m sure it cost a fortune, but it is rather strange how they did it because it is in small sections. It’s just weird. So, backyard slopes downward because of what happens when it rains.

In Oklahoma, we have clay and sandy soil. It turns rock hard in the summer months if it isn’t kept damp (I keep the garden areas damp through daily watering.) It will actually form cracks when it gets really hot and dry. So, because of the location of my coop, we could not just install a floor flat to the ground or there would be some serious issues with water after the rain. Instead, we waited for a really good rainfall to decide how to deal with the flooring. The path of rainwater goes right through the coop. We decided to raise the floor so, rainwater can go under the coop without causing any flooding inside the coop. It goes through the end of the run as well, but I have an idea for that as well so, I’m not worried about having any water-logging issues in the run.

The sub-floor is raised up to the height of a regular red brick on its side. (Yes, I am putting a ramp in for the chickens because I don’t need them getting a broken leg from jumping even though I know a chicken can “fly” enough to jump a fence or get into a tree. So, there are bricks and pallets in the coop waiting for the flooring. The flooring is one of my very random ideas, but hubby agreed that it was a fabulous idea and it will be completely waterproof so, I can rinse out the coop with a garden hose if it gets really gross. We had a rectangular above ground pool in the spot where the chicken coop is currently sitting so, it is somewhat level in some areas still from that pool. (It was one of the easy up type pools with metal braces holding up just the liner part. Not expensive and doesn’t last more than a few years.) I am cutting the pool (thick plastic almost as thick as wood paneling.) And lining the floor and about a foot up the wall of the coop. I will be able to clean the coop easily and we are going to try the deep litter method first so the plywood under the plastic will not rot from moisture in the bedding we use for the coop. If I don’t like the deep litter method, we will switch to sand, which can be scooped and then deep litter for winter because it gets cold here.

I am not currently running any electric to the coop. I have sat inside of it in both summer and winter, there is no need for it in either. In the summer, the run is cooler than standing outside of the run because the cover provides amazing shade while still allowing airflow. I was comfortable inside the run when it was 112° F (44° C). I was in the shade with the breeze blowing and the coop has good airflow as well, which will change during winter, but not be completely sealed because chickens need fresh air. The plastic will also provide a seal against any drafts coming from under the coop. It’s really thick so even if a snake tried to get in, it would not get through the plastic. I am not worried about other predators because we buried more fencing and it’s NOT chicken wire, which was what we had buried flat. We doubled up by adding what was labeled goat fencing over top of the chicken wire that was buried. (There are hog panels and goat fencing behind the chicken wire all around the coop. I know that animals can get through chicken wire. It is there for extra protection. The cover is in place for multiple reasons, the first being hawks. The second reason is owls, then, for shade, and cats because cats can climb. (We have either a large bobcat or a mountain lion crossing the back of the property.) They aren’t getting into this coop or the run. I have been EXTREMELY anal about the security of the coop because we have four packs of coyotes around us, one pack in each direction and they are getting brave. I watched the neighbors dog chase one down the street in broad daylight. This coyote was in her backyard where her small children play.

The last thing I want is to get chicks, raise them until feathered out inside, then, lose them to a coyote or another predator as soon as they start living in the coop. I waited an entire year to make sure the coop itself could withstand Oklahoma wind. (We had a nasty storm with 70-80 mph gusts and it didn’t cause any damage to the coop. It destroyed the run. This is why I canceled my order of chicks last year and waited until this year. I get chicks next month so, forgive me if I take a zillion pictures. I have been waiting forever for chickens.

I’m sure I sound super overprotective and probably a little like a hoarder because I kept things like PVC from the well, an entire pool, and hubby brings me home things like plastic barrels and dump truck covers and dump truck liners. I also have a massive stack of wooden pallets, which he was also amazing enough to bring home for me. He has learned over the years that I have a use for every weird thing he brings me. It will become something amazing even if it doesn’t seem like it when he brings it home.

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot the best part. He gave me an electrical saw I am allowed to use without him hovering over me. He got me a sawzall!!! (I think I spelled that right.) He also got me a package of blades so I can cut apart my pallets build my projects. I am allowed to use a nail gun unsupervised and I have my own drill so, I have always been able to use that. I have to wear safety glasses (I have a purple pair and a pink pair.) and these weird gloves that are supposed to keep me from accidentally cutting myself when changing the blades. I am apparently terrifying when I use a saw. 😂 I doubt I will ever do any actual cutting by myself, but I am not terrifying according to both him and our youngest with the sawzall. To be honest, electric saws terrify me so, I usually let him or one of the kiddos cut things. (all of our kiddos are adults.) He also got me a giant box of wood screws and a big box of nails. (I think they are roofing nails, but they serve their purpose. I call them multipurpose nails 😂) I was always complaining that I could not find a nail or a wood screw when I was putting in hiding spots in the rafters of the dairy building for the barn kitties so now, I have more than enough of both. I think I have rambled enough for one post. (I have one more to write, but it has nothing to do with the chicken coop.)

Until next time….

Adventures, Chickens

Chicken Coop Round 2

Last year, we set up the coop and the run and right after I placed an order for chicks, we had a nasty storm that wiped out my run. I am EXTREMELY grateful that the company I ordered chicks from was kind enough to allow me to cancel my order since the chicks hadn’t hatched yet. We decided to watch what the weather did and how it affected the coop and run over the year and update designs and ensure that the chicks would be completely safe once they were calling the coop and run home.

This photo is OLD!!! This was taken of the coop and run when we built them last spring. The storm did a number on the run, the cover was ripped halfway off and almost got taken away by the wind, three of the PVC arches were ripped off of the fence posts, and 2 fence posts were ripped out of the ground completely. We fixed the fence post issue with concrete during the Fall. it isn’t a ton of concrete, so we will be able to remove the posts, if we decide to widen the run or move it completely.

This weekend, we put the cover back on the run. For those of you who haven’t be here since the beginning, the cover for the run is a dump truck cover, normally used to keep loads of sand, soil, and gravel from blowing out of the truck. Hubby brought me home two that were destined for the dump because they had EXTREMELY minor damage such as small holes or a rip or two that could easily be repaired. (I did patch all of the holes and rips and it took exactly 15 min.)

So, the cover is back on, this time we used hose clamps instead of lacing wire. We ran out of hose clamps halfway through so, I am waiting for my order of hose clamps to be delivered by UPS before I can finish securing the cover. We had some nasty wind so, I know it is secure this time and definitely not going anywhere this time.

It looks really nasty out, but it was 68° F (20°C) and perfect weather for what we were doing. Hubby and I also decided to take an old screen door from the dairy building (I have a bunch of windows and doors in there from the house being updated) and it is now the door to the run. We mounted it on the back side of the coop because it seemed like the best place for it. I didn’t take pictures of the door yet because that section of fencing isn’t completely finished yet. I will continue to take pictures as we complete tasks.

After the cover was secured, we started on fencing. When the companies that sell fencing seal up these rolls of fencing, they wrap them in lacing wire and then in plastic. The problem with this is that the lacing wire blends in with the fencing and is very difficult to see. It took longer to open the rolls of fencing than it did to secure them to the posts.

Again, I am waiting for hose clamps, which will also be used to secure the fencing to the posts properly. For the moment, zip strips and lacing wire is holding the fencing in place. This is not just a single layer of chicken wire. There are hog panels behind the chicken wire on the inside of the coop. It is coated with green plastic so, it just blends and looks pretty much invisible both in pictures and from the back porch.

It really did look like it was going to storm. We didn’t get any rain, just a bunch of brutal wind. If you look closely at the photo above, you will see weird rectangles in the grass. Those are hog panels. I told you, they blend. 😁 Hubby also wants two strands of electric fencing set at 1 ft and 3 ft as a perimeter around the coop. Our friends have lost every chicken every time they start laying eggs. I keep reminding him that they don’t secure the coop entrance and the door from the coop to the run is just a doorway and not secure at all, but he wants electrical fencing. I figure it will come in handy when we eventually get calves (this is going to be a while because neither of us know anything about cattle and we are doing research and talking to people who raise huge herds.) Also, he’s male and from my experience, every guy enjoys cool things like electrical fencing, tractors, and 4 wheelers. So, I am looking at electrical fencing as his part in the whole aspect of having chickens.😂😂 If it keeps them safe great, even if it is a bit ridiculous in my mind. The shutoff switch will be on the front of the coop and the fence will be about 2-3 feet away from the fencing on all sides, so don’t panic, the chickens won’t get zapped. (That was my concern too when he said he wanted it.)

Currently we still need to secure everything once the hose clamps arrive. (I ordered a pack of 100) Then, we have to finish enclosing the run. The end of the run is still open above the fencing so, that needs fencing, the area where we put the screen door needs fencing and the door itself needs fencing because it currently has plastic screen installed. We need to add a few screws to the roof where wind has peeled up the roofing a bit and then silicone to seal where screws are added. Then, cinderblocks around the run at the bottom of the fencing (it is buried, but cinderblocks add more protection). I still need to install roosting areas and nesting boxes. Then, a raised floor because water flows right through the coop when it rains so we will let the water continue its natural course and raise the floor by adding a floor of pavers with plywood above them. This will keep predators from going under the coop to try to get in while supporting the raised floor. I will also secure fencing around the base of the coop, buried of course. Finally, I need to order chicks again.

Once chicks are feathered out and living in their new home, I will get to work on the shed next to the coop. It will become a second coop and it will be sharing a run with the other coop. We will move the door, add another dumptruck cover from the end of the run, over the coop, and attached to the shed roof. We have already fenced in the back side of the area between the two buildings because we used the white metal fence to support the new fencing. It just seemed logical to go ahead and fence it while we were installing the fencing. I may add another building on the end of the run for ducks, but I haven’t decided yet. I definitely want ducks, but they obviously need a water source and I don’t know if I want to sink a kiddie pool that close to the house. I may put them on the back side of the chicken coop and run. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Until next time…

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 4

For this segment of emergency preparedness, I will be focusing on the personal 72 hour kits, which we keep in backpacks. We each have a backpack with everything we need to be okay for 72 hours. If a tornado destroys our home, a wildlife destroys the property, or a snowstorm/ice storm knocks out the power, we are good to go for 72 hours.

I realize that 72 hours doesn’t seem like a very long time, but we have a storm kit, plenty of food in the pantry, which can be cooked on the grill, camp stove, or using the double burner hotplate, plugged into the generator. This kit is specifically for that first 72 hours before you are able to get yourself and your family situated a bit more permanently.

We have used our kits on multiple occasions for ice and snow storms. Three winters ago, we were without power for two weeks. This is a long time to be without central heating, a working stove, microwave, and oven. That first ice storm, we were not really prepared for so, having those 72 hour kits helped immensely. The kids had hot meals until we figured out how to set up the generator to keep a single room in our home warm and livable. This room just happened to be the master bedroom. We took the kids queen size mattresses and put them on our floor. We had an electric space heater, the dish receiver, and our television hooked up to the generator. Everyone was warm, comfortable, and not bored to tears. We have since purchased a kerosene heater, which has the ability to heat the entire downstairs of our house, which frees up a spot on the generator for the internet.

We have also been looking into whole house generators, which hook into the breaker boxes somehow, I am not completely certain how this works and an electrician will be the one doing that aspect. We have experienced two weeks without power so, we have been able to plan for this situation far better than before and we have experienced it twice since that first storm.

So, without boring you further these are the items in my personal 72 hour kit. (These items are not an end all list. They are a good starting point for creating your own 72 hour kit.)

I have 4 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, also known as military rations.) I purchased these in cases at the commissary on the base near us, but these can be purchased here or at military surplus stores. You can also make your own and purchase the heaters separately. You can also substitute backpacking meals, which can be found at Walmart (Mountain House is a major brand of these type of meals)

I have an entire box of granola bars and another box of single serving trail mix pouches. I tend to snack when stressed.

Chocolate (I have a bag of fun size mix chocolates)

A change of clothing (jeans, thin long sleeved shirt, 3 tank tops, hoodie, 3 pairs undies, 3 pairs socks, tennis shoes, beanie hat, gloves.)

I have some bottles of water, but I also have a filter bottle and a life straw. I wouldn’t be able to physically carry 72 hours worth of water. We have a ton of bottled water in the house, a few gallons I each vehicle, and we fill empty plastic kitty litter buckets with water for flushing toilets (we have a well, which needs electrical to run)

I have a small hygiene kit, which includes bath wipes (these are intended for invalids and are much larger than a baby wipe) baby wipes, a small kit for my contacts, 3 days worth of all of my medications (I asked my doctor for this and I swap out the medication each month) a folding brush, a toothbrush, flosspicks, toothpaste, chapstick, dry shampoo, a travel size roll of toilet paper, and a travel size deodorant. (I also have a small feminine hygiene pouch with supplies)

I have 4 garbage bags and one heavy duty contractor bag. The garbage bags can be used to keep the contents of my backpack dry and to keep soiled items away from clean items. The contractor bag can be used as a makeshift shelter, a poncho, etc. I also have ziplocks for holding water, holding garbage, holding small items, etc.

I have a small first aid kit, we have larger ones in the house, in every vehicle, and in the storm kit.

A cell phone charger, earbuds, and a power brick

Flashlight and headlamp

Hand warmers (these are single use items, which warm up when opened and exposed to air.)

I have a thumb drive with important documents and another with photos.

Cash. I keep $100.00 in small bills because power outages and emergencies affect businesses as well as homes.

A Gerber multi-tool (I have several of these and it is my favorite tool because it has almost everything I usually need all in a single tool.)

My knife, which clips to my belt and I usually have it on my belt because I use it constantly for opening boxes, cutting things outside, etc. This does not stay in my bag.

A spare set of everyone’s keys. House keys, car keys, safe keys, tool box keys, trailer hitch keys, trailer keys, etc.

550 cord (parachute cord) I have this woven around the straps and handle so, it doesn’t take up any room.

Duct tape. I have approximately 10 feet wrapped around the 3 Bic lighters, which are in different pockets.

Waterproof matches and a magnesium fire starter. (I have multiple ways to start fires simply because heat is essential and being able to boil water or heat food is really nice.)

Sterno. Sterno is heat in a can/ cube. I have both forms. (I do not recommend using the cubes indoors. They smell awful.) These are great for Heating water for tea or heating soup because they are easy to light and heat quickly.

An aluminum cup (I can boil water or cook in this.) A set of camp utensils (it’s a fork and spoon, which fold up and fit inside a small zippered pouch. I found these here. (I bought these for backcountry camping trips years ago and found a small zippered pouch for them to fit in perfectly. These are NOT necessary, but some form of eating utensils are needed if you don’t use MREs with the accessory kits.)

Sunblock and Bugables Mosquito Bands

Finally, I have my backpacking tent, and sleeping bag tied to my backpack. These are very lightweight items and rather costly if you are on a budget. If you have a tent great, if it’s huge, keep it near an exit so you can grab it and go. Keeping blankets in your trunk omits the need for sleeping bags (unless its below zero, then have them close to an exit or easily accessible.) Hubby keeps pillows and blankets in his truck so he can nap during his lunch hour. My youngest enjoys fishing and camping so these things usually go with him, when he leaves the house for a fishing trip so they are easily accessible for him if needed. I am the only one in the house who has a tent and sleeping bag because mine are lightweight enough for me to be able to easily carry them. Each of these items weighs less than 2 lbs.

I have another bag, which is for the whole family, which I grab along with my backpack if anything happens. This bag contains comfort items, more food, medications for every situation (basically a sampling of the household medicine cabinet.) A larger first aid kit, and extras of some of the items listed above.

This is my personal 72 hour kit. I have a few other items, which I am not listing because they are personal items. I have comfort items, which I strongly recommend for anyone. For little ones, pack a diaper bag with 3 days worth of supplies and keep an extra can of formula on hand if possible (even if you breastfeed, having formula may be a good idea in case you get separated for any reason. In natural disaster situations, it is possible that you may be separated.)

I also recommend writing your cell number, name and address on your child’s arm and then, paint over it with liquid bandage to make it waterproof. You can also have custom made temporary tattoos made or wristbands (the kind made from a waterproof material, which stick to themselves.) This company makes both wristbands and temporary tattoos. These are also great for trips to theme parks, the zoo, or anywhere your little one may wander off. It can get them back to you safely much faster.

Pack what works for you and your family. The main things are food, water, first aid, heat, and shelter. Until next time…

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

Bad Things Come In Threes, But The Air Conditioning is Fixed

The air conditioning is fixed!!! I cannot even begin to explain how happy I was to see the AC repairman pull into the driveway today. One air conditioning unit was low on freon and the other needed a tiny little part that he called a fan start capacitor. Both are blowing super cold again. Neither of them has shut off or begun blowing hot air so, they are officially fixed. (He left his personal cell number just in case something else happened with them after he left.) As of 10:13 pm, the house is basically a polar cave, just the way we like it.

I am still waiting on the lawnmower deck. I keep looking outside and hoping it doesn’t rain a whole lot before the deck arrives. I am trying to find someone with a tractor and a brush hog who is willing to cut it for us for about $100.00 or so. (I would even pay 200 if they would do it just before the new deck arrives.) The deck is apparently back ordered until late August even though the website said, “In Stock”. I seriously cannot catch a break. With the Air conditioning, the lawnmower deck, and the dishwasher, that’s 3. They say bad things come in threes and that’s 3 things. (I am not counting the chicken coop because it just needs the cover secured again. It’s not broken, just slightly damaged.)

The dishwasher needs a new heating element. That can be repaired and does not mean I need a new dishwasher thankfully. I am just fed up with things breaking. I realize this is part of owning a home, but it still sucks. It raises my stress levels, which in turn raises my pain levels and by that point, I just want to flop on the couch and no longer more for the entire day. I simply cannot flop on the couch doing nothing. My household would fall apart rather quickly if I did that.

I am making the best of the stressful situation. I have no issues doing dishes by hand. I drive hubby crazy because I have a dishpan with sanitizer in it and I dip the dishes after washing and rinsing. I didn’t use my dishwasher to wash the dishes, I used it to sanitize the dishes. Therefore, sanitizer is necessary. (Yes, I realize that most people do not sanitize their dishes.)

I sanitize my dishes because I have a compromised immune system. I clean my house with bleach and a disinfectant called Cavi-cide. I love bleach. Bleach kills almost everything that floats around the typical home. Cavi-cide is normally reserved for the bathrooms. It’s a hospital grade disinfectant, which needs to be rinsed off of surfaces after letting it sit for 3 minutes. It kills stomach bugs, flu germs, the common cold, MRSA, TB, HIV, etc. It keeps me from getting sick and ending up with a week long hospital stay. (I hate hospitals.) Hubby will be replacing the dishwasher element when it arrives. Apparently it is an inexpensive and simple thing to change out. Until this happens, I will continue to sanitize my dishes with sanitizer tablets.

Aside from the onslaught of breakages, everything seems to be going fairly smoothly. I will be spending tomorrow cleaning up the side of the basement we plan to turn into two bedrooms. It is currently cluttered with holiday decorations, Army fungus (uniforms, gear, etc.), and boxes I never unpacked when we moved. I will have to wear a mask while I am down there cleaning. There is a section between the two large areas of the basement, which has a dirt floor. This is the location of the old coal chute for the coal furnace, which was removed long ago. The dirt is an extremely find dust and I don’t want to be breathing it in while sweeping it back to the dirt floor area. Once everything is organized and swept up, we can figure out exactly how we want to remodel the basement. I will take some pictures while I am down there. The wall has names and birthdays for the boys who were members of a Boy Scouts Troop/Den back in the late 1950s or early 1960s (I don’t remember the exact dates.) The original builder’s wallpaper is also in patches on the walls. The builder’s wallpaper was calendar pages from 1918. We plan on preserving these bits of history even though we will be remodeling. Hubby plans on filling in the dirt floor section with concrete once he has it checked out to see if it’s still dirt for a reason. I will be taking the metal detector down there before he fills it in. The area is approximately 12 ft. X 7 ft. and I am bringing the metal detector down there because there was a Boy Scouts Troop/Den meeting in the one side of the basement. The entire square footage of the basement is about 1000 square feet. The attic is another 1000 square feet, which we would love to turn into usable space. Right now, the attic is about 120° Farenheit (It was 165° Fahrenheit earlier today when the AC guy was up there checking the upstairs air handler. Both units are heat pumps, and I have no idea what the difference is between a heat pump and anything else.)

Looks like an AC unit in my opinion. I apologize for the dark picture. It was 3 am and I was taking pictures because it froze up. I will show you what that looks like.

The first picture is the piping for the freon. And the second picture is through the top where the fan is and the entire compressor was frozen in a block of ice. In order to keep the AC going somewhat, I would have to turn it off, allow it to thaw out, then turn it back on, I repeated this process every few hours. This was the upstairs unit and all of the bedrooms are upstairs so, this one was pretty important at night.

This is the downstairs unit and it needed a capacitor replaced. For this one, the fan in the top wouldn’t turn on. To keep this one going, I had to reset the breakers until the fan kicked on every few hours. The air handlers are located in the basement and in the attic. They kept blowing air. It was hot air, but both kept blowing air. I really am glad they are fixed.

I am sunburned from being outside while both units were being fixed. I stayed outside and watched because I wanted to know how he was fixing them. He was so awesome, he explained everything, showed me the readings when he tested freon levels, told me what normal levels were, and showed me when he tested the old capacitor with a multimeter. It was showing zero for a reading and the new one was showing a much higher reading. He also flushed the drain lines in the basement for the air handler. He explained how to do it in case the water started to show on the small section of concrete again in the future. (Basically, he blew air through the lines with a handheld air compressor. I really want one of those, but they are stupid expensive.)

Fizzgig was being especially cute and snuggly this morning while I was drinking my coffee. I hated to get up and disturb him, but I absolutely had to get dressed today.

He has been really snuggly lately and I am not sure why, because he rarely wants to snuggle with me.

He has even been snuggly with Gizmo. (Pardon my couch. I am married to a mechanic and he doesn’t always change out of his work clothes before flopping on the couch. Motor oil and other mechanical fluids have destroyed my tan couch.) I vow to get a black leather/pleather sectional when I replace the couches. They are 9 years old so, they are actually in pretty decent shape for surviving oodles of kids a grandbaby, other people’s babies, cats, Miss Mia and hubby and I sleeping on them for several months when he had his knee surgeries. (He has a titanium knee now.) Miss Mia is not allowed on the couch, but that has never stopped a dog before when no one is home. They have also survived a move across the country and another across the state. I still want to replace them. They are a two piece sectional and I want a “U” shaped sectional with recliners.

Miss Mia also got brushed this week.

The birds had a field day collecting the fur that blew away before it could be bagged. They will have super comfortable nests when winter comes. The small family of Finches, who live in the tiny birdhouse on the Hackberry tree in the backyard have been stuffing the birdhouse with her fur since they moved in the same time we did. The first decorations I hung was my birdhouse and then, my windchime. The windchime has seen better days. Hubby finally rebuilt it using lacing wire to hang the chimes and a large metal washer on a nut and bolt to hang against the chimes because the Oklahoma wind ripped the chimes off and the part that bangs against the chimes. It will definitely survive any wind that blows on it now.

This sunburn has made me feverish. I used my favorite sunburn remedies because I didn’t want to be in excruciating pain. Yes, I was wearing sunblock and I was covered, but I was outside for far too long and burned anyway because of the photosensitivity caused by one of my medications. Those remedies have been working EXTREMELY well for me for as long as I can remember and I added a few over the years. First, is the vinegar bath. I mix about a quart of white vinegar in about two inches of water in the tub, the water is lukewarm. I cover my whole body with this mixture several times and let it dry. Then, I keep aloe gel in the fridge so it is cold. Aloe is a wonderful thing for burns. I make my own gel now, but I have bought many bottles in the past. A few hours later, I take another bath. This time I grew a gallon of very strong black tea, (about 8 quart size teabags for a gallon of water.) I let it cool and with the tub plugged, but empty, I cover myself in the tea several times and let it dry. I add more aloe and sleep in super soft pajamas. (A tank top and shorts with flat seams and EXTREMELY soft fabric) by morning I have no sunburn symptoms aside from some light redness or pinkness. I am extremely pale so, I burn easily. I ALWAYS wear sunblock, but sometimes I still burn. It’s nice to be able to stop the heat and pain rather quickly. I am sure these old home remedies are probably NOT recommended, but they work for me. Please don’t take any of this as medical advice. I am NOT a doctor. I am just telling you what I do for myself and my kiddos. See a doctor if you have a severe sunburn as it could be sun poisoning or even a 2nd or 3rd degree burn. Blistering of any sort should be treated with medical attention.

With that being said, aloe gel is super easy to make. Just cut open an aloe leaf, scrap the gooey inside out, add a bit of witch hazel (just enough to thin to your desired consistency) and mix in a food processor, blender, or mash together with a fork. Pour it into a bottle and keep it in the fridge. Keep in mind fresh aloe will mold because it doesn’t contain preservatives. I have also made a spray by adding a bit of distilled water along with the witch hazel. For this, you definitely need to use a food processor or a blender and then, strain it so, your spray nozzle doesn’t clog. I firmly believe all aloe marketed for sunburns should come in spray form because rubbing it on can be painful when your skin is tight and hot. You can easily water down store bought aloe with a mix of witch hazel and distilled water to make a spray form as well. No matter what, the best treatment for sunburn is to avoid getting one in the first place. Sunblock is a wonderful thing. Reapply every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming. You should be using a shot glass full of sunblock for a child and 2 shotglasses (a shot glass is an ounce) for an adult. Use more if you feel that isnt enough. The lotion provides better coverage than the sprays simply because you can see exactly where it has been applied. I am a huge believer in sunblock. Skin cancer is deadly and terrifying. Also, sun damage to your skin causes your skin to age faster. You will see more wrinkles and more discoloration when you don’t protect your skin from the sun. Even the bottom of your feet can get sunburned. Apply sunblock EVERYWHERE. Remember, even waterproof/water resistant sunblock needs to be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. 😁 you can also buy clothing with built in sunblock, which is especially awesome for kids who hate sunblock or anyone with a sensitivity. This is the brand, Athleta, which I have personally been using. It is not terribly expensive considering that it will help protect you from UVA/UVB rays. It’s also cute and comfy. (I have ZERO affiliation with this company. I am simply sharing the brand that I have been personally using.) Their clothing is soft and pretty durable. I was expected something itchy or heavy feeling because its sunblock clothing. I am very happy with my purchases. I can’t wait to get more.

Now, that I have lectured everyone on the importance of sunblock, I sincerely hope, if you take only one thing away from my blog, this is that thing. It truly is important to take care of your skin. Until next time…

Journal Style Posts

If It Can Go Wrong, It Will Go Wrong….

I swear, we take one step forward and three steps backwards every time we try to do something to improve the homestead. We had a very nasty storm roll through and then, another nasty one immediately behind it. The coop and run survived the first storm and held up rather well. Nothing flooded, the inside of the coop stayed fairly dry considering there is a large open window on the north side of the coop. The floor was dry and I was shocked. The second storm came with 85 mph winds and hail. The coop stayed intact for the most part. Some of the plywood is warped and will need to be reinforced. The run was demolished. The entire cover ripped off and two of the PVC pipes were ripped out of the ground and the lacing wire snapped from the force. Hubby and I took one look at the destruction and decided that we were going to wait until March to get chicks and try to find a way to keep the run intact during storms like the ones we just encountered. I have been trying to figure out some way to secure the PVC piping to the fence posts that will survive our destructive storms.

I have come to the conclusion that hose clamps may be our best bet for securing the PVC. (Most held fairly well with the lacing wire, but I want to be certain that every single one will hold in the future.) As far as the dump truck cover, I am still trying to figure out how to secure it without cutting any holes in it because that will just cause rips to form over time. Zip strips are not strong enough to withstand the extreme wind. We will also be setting the fence posts in concrete because they were pushed by the wind and are now leaning inwards instead of being straight. I have never seen such destruction from storms and wind, aside from hurricanes and tornadoes. These were just our normal springtime storms.

Aside from the chicken coop and run being destroyed, the air conditioning is still not fixed. The company that is supposed to be fixing it told me a week ago that they ordered parts. Yet, I am still waiting for them to come fix it. It has been in the 100’s and its brutally hot outside. (For those of you across the pond, that temperature is in Farenheit. Today, it is 39° Celsius, which is 103° Farenheit.) It’s hot and miserable outside.

Nice and frozen isn’t it?!

On top of the Air conditioning being messed up and the coop being destroyed, the lawnmower deck broke today. They say bad things come in threes, well, that’s three. I ordered a replacement deck for the riding mower. Thankfully we live outside city limits so we cant be fined for not mowing our grass. Hubby managed to mow the front before the deck broke. I didn’t bother planting a garden this year because of the lack of rain in March and April. We have had 5 days of rain since March. I would have lost everything I planted because of the temperature and drought.

I did plant some herbs in pots in the kitchen window and they are thriving. My aloe plant I was given 3 years ago by a friend in Florida bloomed again this year. She mailed it in a ziploc bag in the middle of summer. I am still shocked it survived the mail. It takes up most of my kitchen window now and will definitely need a bigger pot next spring. I have also been attempting to sprout avocado pits. They will be indoor trees if they survive, but I love avocado. My kitchen window extends outwards from the house by about a foot (30 cm) and it has shelves. It is a greenhouse window and I love it. Fizzgig makes it difficult to fill with plants because it is one of his favorite napping spots.

This is my little greenhouse window. I know it looks like that house is fairly close, but it is an acre away. This is a photo I found in my phone and my aloe plant is much larger now, but it gives a better idea of what I am talking about when I say greenhouse window. I love this window because the sun never shines directly in my face. It’s a north facing window so, it receives great light, without the harsh glare from the sun. On the top shelf, you can see a lumpy shape with points on top. This is one of my favorite finds from the attic. It is a handmade clay owl, which was made by one of the Bowlin children. (The Bowlin family were the second owners of our home and the house stayed in the family from the 1920s to the early 1980s.) I adore this little owl. It makes me smile even when it seems like everything is going wrong or falling apart. It makes me remember that nothing is perfect, but the imperfections are what make things both unique and beautiful.

We will get the coop and run situated and it will be able to withstand whatever Oklahoma weather can throw at it. (Hubby thinks he wants to make it bigger since he has until March to fix the run and work on the coop itself.) I am EXTREMELY happy that the wind didn’t rip the dumptruck cover completely off and take it away from our property. It has been removed, folded up, and stored safely until we can go get some hose clamps to secure it to the PVC. We are also going to secure the PVC to the fence posts with hose clamps. This seemed like a logical step for stability during storms. A few bags of quick settling concrete will help ensure that the fence posts stay in the ground during storms with high winds. The whole run will go up like a kite if the wind is strong enough and the fence posts dont have concrete. (Another reason Hubby wants to make it bigger is because concrete makes it permanent in his mind.) Some of the plywood warped from the winds so he will probably end up taking the whole thing down and starting from scratch knowing him. I am perfectly okay with this because I know no matter what he does to it between now and March, it will be the safest and most secure coop possible.

While I am a bit disappointed, I am also EXTREMELY patient. Things happen and you just do the best you can to continue forward and work towards finding a solution.

While writing and editing this post, one more bad thing happened. We lost one of the ginger kittens. I have no idea what happened to the little guy. I went to the dairy building to feed them and I found him outside of the building. The building was secured and there was no sign of anything trying to get inside. Mrs. Weasley moved the remaining three kittens and I don’t blame her. I buried the kitten and placed a very large chunk of rock over where I buried him. I didn’t want coyotes or anything else digging him up. He was killed by another small animal. I feel so bad for his siblings and his momma. She still comes and eats, but there has been no sign of her kittens. I have no idea where she stashed them. I only hope they are safe and sound wherever she has them. 😔

I think that is enough bad news for one post. Next time, I hope to have MUCH better news. Until next time…

Everyday Activities, Journal Style Posts

General Homestead Update

As I stated previously, it has been a rough couple of weeks. I have been getting sunburned each time I go get the mail. I wear sunblock religiously. I put it on each morning, like most people would put lotion on. I reapply every few hours unless I am actually outdoors and then I reapply every hour. I managed to get severely sunburned while building the coop and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how I got so burned.

It took a few weeks to figure it out. I had gone to the pharmacy to get some stuff for my sunburn and the pharmacist came over to me while I was gathering different things off of the shelves. He asked me if I had been using sunblock, to which I replied, “of course”. He then asked me if I knew that my new prescription causes photosensitivity. I just looked at him dumbfounded because this tidbit was not listed ANYWHERE on the printout for the prescription, it wasn’t on the medication website, which I read thoroughly because I have so many allergies, it’s ridiculous. I asked why it wasn’t on the printout and he explained that they had just received the updated list of side effects since it is such a new medication (They had to order it for me when I filled it the first time.) I had no idea that this medicine caused photosensitivity. I had been using my regular spf 50 daily sunblock. I was burning every time I walked outside and I have been battling what I thought was a migraine for three weeks. Nope, not a migraine, light sensitivity due to this medicine. If it didn’t work so well, I would have called my doctor and had him change my prescription, but it works really well so, I’m not changing it.

They stuck a nifty warning sticker on the bottle this month that says, “Avoid exposure to direct and/or artificial sunlight while taking this medicine.” Wasn’t that nice of them?

I have found a way to avoid exposure. I have a very thin shirt that is long sleeved, but has built in sunblock properties. It’s a button down and breathes like I am wearing nothing. It’s that thin. I ordered a few more in different colors since the sun has become an enemy instead of just being a rival. I keep one by the back door and another by the mudroom door. I use the mudroom door a lot so, I needed one there as well. We never use the front door. I have no idea why, we just don’t. I was able to sit outside for a bit the other day earlier in the morning and I saw my very first humming bird ever. It was so loud. It scared me at first because I thought it was a giant wasp or a giant bug. I have a few feeders around the outside of the house.

The other lovely thing happening, which has delayed my chicks being ordered, is the air conditioning. We have two separate air conditioning systems. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. They are both on the fritz.

We have this nifty thing called a home warranty. It’s like insurance for appliances, plumbing, and electrical. Instead of paying full price, we pay a deductible and the home warranty company either repairs or replaces the appliance that fails. I highly recommend having one if you own a home.

The issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere so, they had to find a company willing to accept the job. This has taken two weeks. (Once they found one, the agent I spoke with told me how to avoid the wait in the future.) I finally spoke with the company and have to call Monday to set up the appointment.

So, for two weeks, our house has not been as cool as we normally keep it. I have managed to keep the air conditioning running for the most part by shutting it off for an hour or so and turning it back on after it thaws out. (According to the A.C. guy, it’s low on freon.) Heat compounds all of my health issues and makes me a very miserable human.

Hubby and I both agreed, that the chicks should wait until the air conditioning is fixed, since we have been in the high 90s and in the 100s these past two weeks. Once it hits 80° inside, I am useless. I swell up and I am miserable. It is definitely not fun. The other concern was regulating the temperature for the chicks. I don’t want them overheating. The humidity inside is also extremely high for some reason.

I probably won’t have many eggs this year, but I am okay with that. I don’t want to not be able to care for chicks because I am not fully functioning. I have contacted the company we are ordering from (I had to cancel my order.) They gave me wonderful news. They have Silkies hatching in July and August. This thrills me to no end. I think they are adorable. I can add a few to my order when I order in July. They had zero issues with me cancelling my order (the chicks hadn’t hatched yet) and were extremely understanding. I have room for 20 full grown chickens. I was going to get 10, but I think I will be getting more since they have a few colored egg breeds hatching in July and August.

Aside from my sun issues and the air conditioning breaking, we have had quite a few things happening around the homestead. Hubby finally taught me how to start the riding mower. This means I can mow any time I decide it needs to be mowed. I really enjoy mowing.

We are setting up the clothesline this weekend. I cannot wait for line dried sheets and linens. The smell and crispness of line dried sheets cannot be duplicated. I won’t even have to leave the back porch or put on shoes to use the clothesline. Hubby is setting up a pulley system so I can stand on the back steps barefooted and hang laundry or take it off the line.

We are also beginning a major project of finishing half of the basement. After having a house full of family in May, we both agreed, that we need more room. He really likes my idea of using corrugated metal for the walls. (Insulation boards behind the metal and waterproofing behind the insulation boards) He said we would never have to worry about painting and it would make the room so much brighter because light will reflect.

The one side of the basement can be turned into two bedrooms. The kids have already been bickering over who gets the basement rooms once they are finished. They bicker over who gets which room when they come home now. So, it wasn’t shocking that they are already bickering over the basement. Regardless of who gets the rooms, we will have to have Dish Network come wire the rooms for satellite tv and an electrician to wire for outlets and lighting. I am thinking of doing the industrial look for outlets and basic sconces for lighting. The ceilings are too low for ceiling fans or even normal lighting. Someone would hit their head on them. The ceilings are high enough that no one has to duck (as long as the kids stay under 6 ft they won’t have to duck) As far as heating and air goes, all of the duct work is already there, we simply need to add vents. That part will be easy.

We currently use the basement for a storm shelter so, having actual bedrooms, power, and television down there will make it much more comfortable for everyone. It will also turn our 4 bedroom house into a 6 bedroom house. Eventually, we will add a bathroom because water lines are already in place. There is a sink down there already.

So many projects are on our list. I don’t think we will ever be without projects. The coop has a floor, the window has been secured, we tested the roof with a pressure washer and ended up raising it a bit for better drainage. Gutters will be added along with a rain barrel, which will be a water source for chickens and for the greenhouse which will get added one day. The run is complete aside from the gate, which will take about 10 minutes to put it on the run. I still need to paint something on it so, it isn’t eggshell and boring. Perhaps I will do that this weekend since I have nothing else planned for the weekend except a clothesline. If I manage to avoid the sun and get it painted, I will take oodles of pictures. Until next time…

Chickens

Chicken Coop Build Update

This weekend was rough. The coop is almost to the point of being completely done, but it is not done. We had to stop in the middle of working on the run because hubby was injured. Now, it wasn’t anything too major, but it did require a trip to the emergency room for five stitches in his pinky finger. He was putting a T-post into place and instead of hitting the post, he hit his hand with the sledgehammer.

He is fine, he only needed the stitches. I will continue working on the run this week, but will not be doing any fence posts. The posts are all in place. Injuries do sometimes happen, we use safety gear, he was wearing gloves, but accidents happen and he will spend the next 7-10 days healing instead of working on my coop

We managed to get a lot of work done prior to his accident.

For the arches, we used the old PVC piping from our well. We recently had the PVC replaced with roll pipe to make pulling the pump up easier. The PVC is attached to the T-posts and to the white fence, to which we attached fencing that chickens cannot get through and predators cannot get inside.

The coop has been painted with an eggshell color and a metal roof has been added. The metal is only temporarily secured as you will see in the next picture because we are not sure how this roof will work as far as rain is concerned. We are hoping it rains this week like it is supposed to so, we can test the roof.  I know it looks completely flat feom the photos, but it actually has a slant. The front is higher than the back, but we arent certain it the difference in height is enough or if the angle needs to be increased. If it does not work as planned, we will raise the front of the roof by placing a 2×4 board under the plywood to raise it to a bit more of a slant. As you can see, there is a gap between the roof and the coop and this is securely blocked from predators with what I am calling rabbit fencing. It’s a roll of fencing that was found in the shed. We aren’t quite sure what it is, but I have a better view of this fencing over a window. The gap is there to provide ventilation for the coop without causing a draft during winter months.

This is the fencing I was referring to. This section is stapled onto the coop temporarily until I purchase larger washers. The ones I bought are too small and slip through the holes far too easily. We do have the plywood to close this window during winter months and there will be a section of roofing or the material used to cover the run, running between the coop and the shed next to the coop. It gets really hot during the summer months and air circulation is an absolute must. The section of roof or cover we use will keep the rain out, but allow for enough airflow to keep the coop from becoming an oven. I sat inside the coop for twenty minutes with the door closed to ensure this would provide enough airflow without being straight wind as the coop was being built. It was 94° outside during my test with wind gusts up to 35 mph. I was cool enough to be more comfortable inside than outside and while I felt a slight breeze, I didn’t feel the gusts of wind, which blew over a pallet leaning against the coop.

See that blue sledgehammer, that’s the culprit. That’s the very hammer hubby smashed his finger with. As you can see, the black cover is hanging on the other side of the white fence. We decided we needed more PVC arches. There was simply too much slack in the cover for our liking and the wind was blowing fairly hard at this point. Entirely too much sway was happening with the PVC arches for our liking so, more support was absolutely necessary. I had to apply a filter to this picture because it was really dark and hard to see. I brightened it up a bit so the details could be seen clearly.

As you can see, the cover is on the arches. It’s difficult to see, but there is fencing on the T-posts and on the white fencing. We used fencing that is coated in green plastic. It virtually disappears there is a space with no fencing right next to the coop. We are going to be installing a gate here. I am leaving the cover as it is in this picture because it provides protection from hawks. I will have to duck to enter the coop, but once inside I cannot reach the tops of the arches without using a ladder. Hubby can just barely reach them. The inside of the run is over 6 feet high. The cover provides an amazing amount of shade, while still allowing airflow. I am uncertain if I explained what we used as a cover in previous posts, but this cover is a dump truck cover. You see them stretched over loads with loose dirt, sand, or rocks. Hubby brings random things home from work for me and I love this about him. This cover was deemed useless because it had a few holes in it the size of a quarter and a foot long rip. I used lacing wire to stitch these up prior to our installation. I have no idea why such small holes and a small rip would render this cover useless, but I am very glad he rescued it before it was tossed in a dumpster. I have tried to reuse as many materials as possible. Some of the pallets that hubby refused to use on the building itself will be used for fencing between the shed and the coop and a greenhouse will eventually be built between the coop and the shed. Those pallets will form the frame of the greenhouse.

This is the very end of the run. As you can see, there’s excess cover material. Hubby was placing the final T-post for the additional arch he was placing when he smashed his finger.

Part of the cover is attached to the final arch and I will finish attaching the cover to the arch this week. The only problem with this final arch being added is the space between the fencing and the cover on the end. We will either attach metal screen or cut fencing and attach it to both the arch and the fencing below. We have not decided yet. Neither of us wanted to cut the cover to be neatly fastened to the fencing because we did not want to destroy the cover, which may be moved and used on a larger coop for a larger run. It is, after all, a perfect rectangle complete with a reinforced border and metal grommets every 2 feet. No one in their right mind would cut that apart.

The coop still needs:

  • A gate installed
  • The window secured properly
  • The cover fastened
  • The gap at the end of the run closed and secured against predators
  • The space between the shed and coop fenced off and covered (We have another cover.)
  • Some color because eggshell is boring
  • Roosts and nesting boxes installed
  • Feeders and water sources installed
  • Dust bath
  • Possibly adjustments to the roof

It was a very productive weekend and aside from hubby needing stitches, it was a good weekend. I am so excited and looking very forward to having chickens living in their coop, which we have paid attention to every small detail to ensure it is as comfortable and as safe as possible. I am still looking for suggestions for chicken names, but I am also looking for suggestions for a paint scheme. As of right now, I am debating using fairy cottages as inspiration or even gnome homes. I have a wonderful memory of a television show called “David the Gnome” and that is what is running through my mind at the moment for inspiration. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Until next time….

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Homemaking on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 3

It’s 2:30 in the morning and insomnia is keeping me from sleeping, yet again, so, I am writing the third part of my Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead series. This post will focus on the Household Binder. I realize this may not seem like an emergency preparedness item, but it really is and I will explain how to create one as well as why it should be a part of your emergency preparedness plan. This will explain everything and you will know how to create your own by the time you reach the end of this post.

First, I am going to give you a list of supplies, some of which are necessary, while others just make the whole process more enjoyable. I will differentiate between necessary and optional with an asterisk next to the necessary items. Almost all of the necessary supplies can be found at Dollar Tree stores and are generally inexpensive no matter where you purchase them.

Supplies for your Household Binder

  • *One 3-ring binder (I used a 1 inch binder)
  • *Clear plastic page protectors (these are plastic sleeves for sheets of paper)
  • * Tabbed Dividers (you can go with the inexpensive paper ones or the more costly plastic ones. It doesn’t matter which ones you use.)
  • *Paper (either notebook paper or printer paper or both.)
  • * a pen or pencil
  • Dry erase markers
  • Colored pens
  • Pocket folders with 3-ring holes pre-punched
  • A 3-ring hole punch
  • Washi tape
  • Stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Printer
  • Printed pages (this will make more sense as I continue)
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Now that you know what supplies you need, we will get started on what a Household Binder is and what goes inside.

A Household Binder is an organizational tool for your home. It helps you to keep track of everyone’s schedule, favorite recipes, important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, and so much more. I am sure you are still wondering how this related to emergency preparedness and I promise I will get to that, but first, I am going to give you a list of sections and pages for your Household Binder.

Sections

  • Finances
  • Calendar and Important Dates
  • Pantry
  • Housework
  • School/Work
  • To Do
  • Babysitter
  • Pets
  • Medical
  • Shopping
  • Holidays
  • Emergency Preparedness

Pages

  • Babysitter checklist/Letter
  • Seasonal Task List
  • Holiday Gift List
  • Holiday Budget
  • Household Budget
  • Monthly Bills (due dates, amounts, and who to pay)
  • Monthly Calendar
  • Weekly Calendar
  • Yearly Calendar
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Internet Account Passwords (for paying bills, children’s online gradebooks, etc.)
  • Master Grocery List
  • Master Pantry List
  • Master Freezer Inventory
  • Master Fridge Inventory
  • Master Pantry Inventory
  • Household Member Clothing Sizes
  • Emergency Kit Inventory Checklist
  • 72-Hour Kit Inventory Checklist
  • First Aid Inventory Checklist
  • Housework Schedule
  • Laundry Schedule
  • Spring Cleaning Schedule
  • Holiday Menu
  • Birthday and Anniversary Budget
  • Address Book
  • Phone Book
  • Pet Medication Dose Tracker
  • Map of Child’s School (in a sleeve)
  • Child’s Class Schedule (in a sleeve)
  • Emergency Escape Routes
  • Household Fire Drill Schedule
  • Household maintenance Records and Schedule
  • Copy of immunization Record and Immunization Schedule for Children
  • Pediatric Over the Counter Medication Dosage Charts (for Babysitter or Parent who doesn’t normally do this)
  • How to for Spouse or Significant other for running things while you are away.
  • Current Shopping list (workable)
  • Current To-do list (workable)
  • Bills to pay (in a sleeve)
  • Daily Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Menu
  • Monthly Menu
  • Daily Menu

Now, you have a pretty good idea of what a Household Binder is and what it includes. If you noticed, there are pages for sitters and pages for your spouse or significant other, which will give them the information they need to do things they don’t normally do. For example, if you are at work, in a meeting and unable to answer your phone, the dosing chart for fever reducer is in the household binder. So, if your little one suddenly starts running a fever, the person caring for him or her can now accurately dose your child. Say you are unexpectedly hospitalized and unable to pay your bills, your spouse or anyone you trust can open that binder and successfully pay your bills for you while you are unable. If you have to suddenly leave town, your most used recipes are in this binder as well as a daily schedule, a weekly schedule, and if necessary, a monthly and yearly calendar and Schedule can be included as well.

If you have started building a stockpile because you became obsessed with couponing, you can keep a running list of what is in your pantry, when those items expire, and you can even chart put where everything is located in your pantry. A master pantry list allows you to go through the pantry and ensure you have your most used pantry items stocked up in the pantry, but it will also tell you what is missing when you can’t figure it out by looking in the pantry.

A maintenance schedule reminds you to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have the chimney cleaned, air filters changed on schedule and the central heat and air units serviced, which keeps your family safe and helps save money on electric or gas bills.

Those optional supplies like dry erase markers allow you to write on the plastic sleeves and then just wipe them off when you are finished. Washi tape and stickers are simply for decoration. Colored markers, pens, pencils, and highlighters allow you to designate a specific color for each member of your household, making appointments much easier to distinguish with a simple glance. (You can color code your entire house to make life even easier. One color per person and that color is applied to drinking cups, tooth brushes, bed linens, underwear if you have multiple boys or girls, etc. Just let each one pick their favorite color and color code everything possible.)

I do hope this post was helpful to you. A Household Binder really is a wonderful tool and it falls right in line with being prepared. I strongly recommend including the emergency kit checklists. Check your kits twice a year. The best way to remember this is to schedule those checks on the dates for Daylight Savings. This doesn’t work if you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings such as Arizona. If you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings, check your kits on your birthday and your significant other’s birthday, or on your children’s birthdays. If you are single, use your birthday and Valentine’s Day. This way, if anyone asks what you are doing (and you don’t actually have plans) you can easily say, “I have a date, it has been planned for a year.” You will be telling the nosy person asking the truth and if they ask with who, just say, “someone important, but I am not at liberty to say” again you will be telling the truth because this date is with your emergency preparations and the important person is yourself. Keep the nosey buggers guessing. 😂

Until next time…