We got going on the rocket stoves today. Lots of thinking about placement of air intake, ash area and where the J-tube is gonna go. I didn't really do any of that thinking it was all Kate. But I started to remove cement off some old fire bricks. They're eventually going to be crushed (the ultimate test of my crusher's abilities) to become part of the mix to make the stoves. I was sifting some ash yesterday and today as well, and now we've got a 5 gallon bucket of it. It's so fine that if you kind of vibrate the bucket the ash almost looks like a liquid.
In cute news, we 've got a kitten here! One cat who's name I think is PT was pregnant for a while, then she suddenly shrunk about a week or so ago. It was just yesterday that I saw her carrying the wee gaffer around with her. She's an older cat so we're not 100% sure if she'll be producing milk for him or not. We'll see though.
I also started to move all of my stuff down to the RV. I've tried sleeping in it for the past few days and I'm really enjoying it. There's a real nice breeze and when I wake up the horses are often right outside, munching away. It's also because Kate's daughter is coming up for a visit, and she'll get to stay in her own room.
Wishaw likes me now. Two times now when I've been clearing out barn litter she's come right up to me and asked for a scratch. One time after I had finished scratching her, I heard the wheelbarrow get knocked by something behind me. I turned around and there was Snoopy, scratching his ass on the wheelbarrow handle. Ewww. I washed my hands well after I brought the wheelbarrow back, lol. I think he was satisfied with his itch scratching experience though and that is what really matters.
Today I did some digging. We're going to be moving some raspberry bushes to another section of the garden, and I helped to get things ready for them. The ground is very sandy in that section so some preparation will get the raspberries off to a good start. , To start I dug out a trench in between fence posts. Then I put a layer of well composted horse manure on the bottom and smacked it real good with the shovel to pack it down. Then I did some chop and drop with nettle and other assorted weeds to make a good nitrogen layer. By then I was out of sunlight. Tomorrow I'm going to put a layer of newspaper down, then some fresher barn litter and some sort of top layer for the raspberries to take root in. So the trenches aren't hugelkultur beds because there's no wood, but they're a real good mix of organic matter that should get the bushes off to a great start.
Kate continued work on the new rocket stoves. She put down the first layer of clay-lime mix on the wall. Once I'm done the raspberry trench I'll be joining in on that fun.
PT is still not taking care of the kitten, so we're going to find him a good home. I've been taking him out on little excursions so he gets his exercise, and that's been real cute. He likes climbing all over me. He especially likes when he's almost smothered under my arms - he's purring so much he sounds like a miniature car idling.
It is now time to stretch out, because today's digging made me a bit stiff.
The trench is complete. I put some cardboard down, stabbed it to fill it with holes for the roots to go through, then put some barn litter down. Then I did another layer of greens, then a nice layer of completely composted horse manure as something for the roots to take in immediately when the plants are transplanted.
It was raining allll day on and off. I got my rain suit on for a test and things worked great. Had my rain coat, rain pants and barn boots on, and when I came in after being in the pouring rain I was real warm and dry . Curragh wasn't though after I took her out. We played in the marsh and it was raining so she was rather soaked by the time we got back up to the house.
Speaking of Curragh, she chewed through the charging cord for my phone. I forgot to close my bedroom door this morning, and while I was drinking my coffee I realized she hadn't made a peep in quite a while - uh oh. I power walked down to my room, and there she was, tail thumping away and laying on my bed. I didn't get mad when I saw the cord because she clearly finished well before I got there, so getting angry wouldn't have done anything except scare her. I'm mentioning this because it means I'll have less or zero photos until I can get another cord. The whole upload then download then re-upload thing is data intensive so I'll wait for another cord.
Finally, the kitten has a name. He is a Rufus now! Tonight he expanded his horizons by exploring the dining room table. He licked up the remains of trout we had for dinner, and afterwards he was somewhat greasy and he smelled like trout (surprise!). He is snoozing away now after a long play.
Lorianne Haslehurst wrote:
Ah that kitten is a sweetie pie! What is he eating?
He's having some milk, plus some ground meat mixed in. He's not skinny so he is doing well. He's getting more comfortable around here too.
Lorianne Haslehurst wrote:
I'm also glad you are learning about raspberries. We'd love to give ours some help at Tilden!
Yeah just giving them a great start when they get transplanted. Just a real nice mix of organic matter with some inoculum in the form of horse and goat manure. Lots of stuff to try at home or at the cottage!
Today was good. I got a replacement usb cord, which I will guard more carefully from Curragh's prying jaws. We also got some gelato which was expensive but oh so good. While we were out we got some feed and straw as well.
Also the raspberries are in the trench. They are droopy, but that is to be expected after the transplant. Give them a year or two and they'll be going just crazy.
Finally, Rufus has a friend! The temporary name is Tippy, because he/she has a white-tipped tail. They are very quiet and seem to be having fun together which is good. This may mean that PT is slowly weaning her kittens, so Rufus could potentially have a few friends as time goes on. I will get some pics tomorrow.
We had a very busy and very enjoyable day today. I'm gonna sleep well tonight.
First of all, Rufus has another friend! We are up to three now. Kate brought them out on the veranda today and in not too long PT had them all suckling on her. It's good to see, it looks like she just needed some help. It's 9 now and they're still roaming around out there. DW and RT are there too so there's a whole little cat community on the veranda.
We got the top of the arbor on!! It took three guys and a truck but we got it done. I mostly just supported things while Curtis did the heavy lifting. Gavin helped out for the final part of the lift. Then I hammered the pegs in to make it official, and to stop the log from falling off and killing someone.
Following that I did a bit of barn litter removal from the goat area. Got some good exercise and cleared a small area down to the peat.
The heaviest work today was getting some 2x6's to rebuild the front deck. It's all used wood, so there was a lot of crow bar swinging and hammer prying. One skid came apart nice and easy, and gave me a bit of an egoboost. "Wow I am some sort of demo expert check me out", I thought. Then I tried to do the same to a platform put together with spiral nails. That was a serious challenge let me tell you. Curtis gave me the tip of putting a small block of wood under the pry bar, which gave me a lot more leverage and helped speed things along. I was thinking about why that works so well. I think it's because the fulcrum moves just a bit closer to where I'm pulling /pushing. Whether that's right or wrong, it works!
To end the day off I worked with Hugh and Gill. Both had plenty of weeds popping up, both in the beds and in the path between. So I pulled them all, and tossed the casualties in the beds to build some soil. I also put some cardboard down on the path, followed by some more weeds. I threw some over to the goats too while I was at it. The matriarch goat, Missy, just loves what I throw over. Long after everyone else left she was there waiting patiently for more flowers.
Oh and also Curragh was showing that she's in charge tonight. We were watching a movie, and Curragh took a drink of water. Afterwards she walked straight over to Curtis and wiped her jowls all over him as if he was a big paper towel. Then she walked away. The whole thing was pretty funny.
Today was another busy but good day. First we cleaned up some cardboard and logs in the front. We brought a couple wheelbarrows of it back to a bed and we did some rough mulching. I'm going to bring some well composted barn litter to fill it up a bit. If you want a great tool to pull staples, get some fencing pliers. The hook will bend the staple easily, then the beak-like jaws grab and pull the staple with ease. If I didn't know any better I'd think it was a tool created specifically to pull staples.
I boiled bones! In the big black pot on top of the fire box outside. I'm not sure exactly how long it burned for, but I kept it going for a few hours at least. It is neat how hot of a fire you can get when you burn sticks. I think it's because the fire's got more surface area to work with. The bones are drying on some mesh outside now.
I also helped a bit with clearing the goat barn, but Curtis did most of it. There's a path to the horse area now for the tractor to go in so we can load the bucket and Kate can drive it out to where it's needed.
Finally, Leo (one of the young bucks) has a new home! He's going to be joining a new farm with 5 ladies for him to make babies with. He's an absolute sweetie so everyone will be happy. I don't think I have any photos of him, but he's got round forehead and he looks a bit like a dolphin. He's very cute actually and I'm sure the does there will find him charming.
So it has been a while! There was a power outage last night until about half way through chores, and the other two nights I can't remember why I didn't post.
Nevertheless things have been busy. I finished up pulling apart some old skid looking things to harvest some 2x6's to help rebuild the front deck. The 2x4's there are really starting to get punky. Remi actually broke through one shortly after I arrived, and that was a good sign that things needing replacing.
So I got to know the hammer and crow bar well. Pulling screwed stuff apart wasn't so bad, especially because the screws were mostly rotted away. However there was one section that was put together with spiral nails and wow was it tough to dismantle. Curtis said if you want to build a house that is tornado proof those are the fasteners you use. I did eventually get things apart, but not without a lot of effort! My forearms got even stronger I think (milking the goats had already strengthened them) which is always nice.
After that I took a wire brush to each board to take off accumulated dirt and grit and to prepare them for staining. I covered them up as best I could too, because we got some serious rain yesterday.
Today I finally got started helping with the stove build. I collected all the clay brick I had cracked up earlier, and brought it into the kitchen to crush it up. The crusher works, but if I start with a large chunk it can take a long time to get the initial crack. So I think I'll smash the pieces up a bit in advance with the hammer outside then crush the smaller chunks.
We're having visitors coming up tomorrow and staying a week or so, so that will be fun! Busy but fun.
I haven't taken many photos these past few days, but I got a couple cute ones.
Oh, and Curragh had a bad experience with PT, the cat new mom. Curragh is curious, like most puppies are. So when the kittens showed up, she wanted to check them out. Repeatedly when we went out for chores she'd go to the kittens' crate and sniff around. PT always gave her a hiss and lunged at her a bit, so she got plenty of warning. But yesterday PT had had enough.
We were coming up from chores, and PT was in the crate with the kittens. I opened up the gate and let go of Curragh's leash. She strolled up to the crate, and started to stick her nose in when she suddenly yelped and reeled back as fast as she could. I saw blood running out of her nose - PT had scratched her good. It wasn't serious, but I think it got it into Curragh's head that PT is not to be trifled with. The bleeding stopped within a minute and Curragh seems to be totally fine, aside from losing some of the cockiness she had. Now she is VERY cautious when walking by the crate and gives PT and the kittens a wide berth. She still has fun with DW though, lol.
Today was a quieter day as things were very humid and cloudy. I still got some stuff done, but at a slower pace. First I took some barn litter out of the goats' area. I'm really getting the hang of it now. There's only one more little section that's gotta be cleared out, then we're gonna start on the horses' area.
Following that I made some trips with the wheelbarrow to get some well composted manure. First I visited the horse paddock to get their poop. Wishaw came over to say Hi so I gave her a good scratch. Pushing the wheelbarrow full of horse shit up the hill was a real workout, but I got it done. I dumped in the bed we sheet mulched last week, and spread the mix as evenly as I could. Then I did some same with the chicken and goat barn litter. It's not a super thick layer of soil, but it's something. While I was at it Curragh and DW were playing. They're very cute to watch now. Curragh will either just stare at DW with her tail wagging, or alternate between sniffing and bouncing around. DW clearly enjoys the attention because she finds Curragh all the time to have their little get-togethers.
Kate's daughter is here for a week now, so we might do some other projects like bottling some cider from 2019.
Finally I got another photo of the zucchini - it is just about ready to pick.
It was a good and busy day today. Last night involved some wine and a late night, so I woke up not quite as well rested as I'm used to. Sure was fun though!
The big project today was painting the 2x6's for the deck. Curtis, Kate and I all worked together on them, and we flew through the 35 boards. I like the smell of paint, not because it smells particularly nice but because of the positive connotations I've got with it. I think it makes me think of summer time and working outdoors which is always nice. Don't worry, I wasn't huffing it or anything.
After the first side of each board was done I laid down for a nap. I was only down for 25 minutes but it helped a bunch. I remember back when I was a kid and naps stressed me out. My mom would say it's time for a nap, so I'd go upstairs to bed. I'd lay down, and I'd think that I HAD to get to sleep because it was naptime. I ended up getting stressed out because I couldn't fall asleep. I'd lay there wide awake, getting more and more stressed. I remember I'd eventually go downstairs crying because I thought I'd let my mom down by not sleeping. Needless to say, napping is a much more pleasant experience now.
In garden news, the first zucchini has been harvested! Check it out. There are more on the way that I can see. The tomatoes are starting to produce too, but so far just little green ones. I spent a few minutes yesterday cutting off the suckers which should encourage some more tomato growth.
I spent most of today in suburbia, and it was fun! I went along with Cindy, one of Kate's friends, to cut some lawns. It was the first time I used an electric mower. It was nice and quiet, and cute too. I think the blade was only 14" in diameter. The downside was dealing with the extension cords. Both yards I cut were beautiful - lots of beds and fruittrees. They looked real nice, but unravelling the cord from around the trees and whatnot probably took about a third of the total cutting time. I am nothing if not patient though so I made it through just fine. I finished Cindy's neighbour's lawn, then Cindy's lawn. Then I took a break and we chatted for a bit. I started to whippersnip afterwards, but she stopped me a few minutes in because it turns out I'd already been there for over 4 hours. Time flies when you're mowing lawns. I'm gonna head back another day to finish weed whacking then to put together some shelves.
After all that I'm very hungry. Thankfully when I got back to the homestead I saw that Curtis had roasted a whole duck in a rocket roaster (pic below). We're also gonna cook up the big zucchini. I sliced it up and sampled a slice - very nice. Needless to say I am excited for dinner. Time now to cut up some more veggies.
And in mildy interesting news, we found a strange egg! To me it looks like one of those banana shaped marshmallows.
Another toasty day today. Not heat wave levels but I think we got around 35C. I don't think I did too much really. I went out for a good bike ride, read a little bit, and crushed some fire brick tonight once the sun was down a bit. Kate did more work on rocket stove #1, and I'm going to join in on that tomorrow. I think I'm gonna be doing most of my work in the mornings and evenings though, at least while it's hot.
I have a pair of those hearing protection ear muffs, but these ones have a built in radio. So tonight while I was crushing brick I was rocking out to 101.9 Country FM for over an hour. It's great because the banging wasn't so loud, but also because I couldn't hear the mosquitoes buzzing around my head. When I bought them I wasn't expecting to use them for mosquitoes, but life can be surprising.
I took some photos of some flowers and one of a kitten too, so enjoy!
I did a lot of ingredient preparation today. Not for baking, but for oven making. I got a bucket of sand, and kept on smashing brick up. This time I listened to a pop station to shake things up a bit. I was hammering to the Weeknd and a bit of Justin Bieber I think. Good stuff! I only stopped because my wrists were starting to get sore. I also tied up a bunch of comfrey. And oh yeah I got stung by a wasp yesterday - just above my eyebrow. It's been a while since I've been stung, and honestly I did not miss that sensation. I got the stinger right out and put some polysporin on, and everything was all good. It's just a little itchy now.
I also did some clay crushing. It's in big clumps which don't mix well, so it's gotta me broken down into much smaller pieces before mixing. That gave me forearms another workout.
Out of curiosity, I weighed the bone crusher tool - it's 11.2lbs! It's no wonder my wrists are getting sore. So it must be a 10lb sledge, and the handle adds 1.2lbs. I really should have taken photos of my forearms to compare before and after.
Finally, I cleared out a section of the goat barn. It was a low traffic area, so the hay was mostly nice and fluffy.
I also visited with some of other residents - I gave Peaches, Missy and Lucy a good scratch in the afternoon. This morning I said hi to Wishaw too.
*Edit* Kate just finished reading and started laughing at "it's gotta me broken down" and "that gave me forearms a workout". Not sure if it's the heat or the smoke or the one glass of wine or lack of proofreading or a blend of them all but I made some typos, lol.