The Farm House Gets a Face Lift

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The painters are here and the house is looking great.  After it is all done all three buildings (the house, the barn and the chicken coop) will all be Hunter Green and Cream.  These guys are doing a good job.  We had  a lot of trim that needed to be sealed and they are taking care of all of it.  After this is done then the contractor comes out to replace the doors and the one window you see in the picture.  The JAZFarm farmhouse will be watertight and ready for winter!

My Therapy Dog

My puppy has been SOOOOOOO sweet today. Anyone who doesn’t think that animals are sentient has never owned one. I am kinda laid flat today with a cold. This is the first time I have been sick since we got Basil a year ago. She hasn’t left my side all day. She has laid with her head on my leg most of the day. She keeps bringing me toys and laying them down next to me. Best nurse I’ve ever had. She has known I felt like a cat litter box all day. The sniffs and licks have been very helpful! She has finally called it quits for the day and is sleeping in her crate. Pretty sure there is a reason that yellow labs make great therapy dogs.


Fishing for Props, Back Pats and Atta Boys!!

To all my Doomer, Prepper, Peaker, Survivalist, Environmentalist, Collapsitarian, Homesteader, and Organic Gardener friends: A call for Props, Back Pats and Atta Boys! (Hey if I don’t get it from you there’s only the dog here!)

51 years old, 51 8 foot by 6 inch fence posts with 3 foot holes, 51 60lb bags of concrete, two days…….. DONE!!!! I am IRON MAN… sing with me daa daa dadadaa dadadada da da da daa.

I still have to hang the gates and string the fence but the days of EVERYTHING I TOUCH this past year weighing over 60 lbs and having to be lugged because NONE of it has handles, are OVER!!! The JAZ farm house has been virtually 100% remodeled, the dog run/future goat pen, DONE. Ginormous Chicken coop… DONE. 51 ffffffffreeeeeekin fence posts for my 3/4 acre garden – DONE! Time: one year – right on my self-imposed schedule! Almost time to get down to the business and enjoyment of planting! Woohoo!!! Uh huh, Uh huh! whodaman? whodaman? dats right dats right!!!

Ok I’m back…. sorry. ; )

Lessons learned: Use a power washer to soften up the ground before you auger in Colorado soil. Don’t drop bags of Quick Crete on the ground or you’ll cuss and scoop up lots of cement. If the auger goes in crooked don’t leave it that way or the posts won’t go in right, and 2…… take your time or you will be drinking lots of Aspirin/Wine pain bombs. Anybody near enough to come by and walk on my back?

Pictures for proof! Oh ya, and there is one a good friend sent of a picture out the window of a plane while we were having our floods!! This looks like it is near our farm. Can’t really tell but it looks close. Beautiful though…. even if it did send CAFO crap and Oil down every stream in the state.

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Our FIRST EGGS!!!……… kidding.

No, we haven’t had any eggs yet.  We are looking forward to it though.  When chickens are allowed to free range they are liable to lay eggs anywhere they can make a nest.  If you want them to lay in the nesting boxes you have to train them to do it.  The best way to do that is to make nests in the boxes and put in fake eggs or golf balls so they get a clue that the boxes are the place that is best to do this.

From our hatchery we ordered two dozen ceramic fake eggs.  In the next week or two we will hang the last nest box, fill them with straw and put these “decoys” in so they can see whats up.  Very exciting!


Now The Concrete

At long last the post holes are all dug.  The tractor lived to tell about it!  I am so glad to have it finished.  Now to haul, poor and set 51, 60 lb bags of Quick-Crete.   I did the first 10 yesterday with hopes to do a bunch more today (Friday).  My back is having something to say about that.  Going to give it a rest for a day or two.  Zina leaves on a business trip Sunday and I will be alone for the following 8 days.  Will get the inner-hulk healed and re-motivated and kick em out.  I am so happy that this is all proceeding on my “self-imposed” schedule.  It was a year ago this week when we found the place.  It has been my goal to have the farm “farmable” in the first year.  The house is almost all remodeled (contractors are coming in the next week to replace the doors and one window, and we are having the place painted).  This will make the place water tight and with the exception of some bathroom issues, completely livable.

The next step after fencing in the garden is to get the compost dug into the soil and get the drip irrigation installed.  The second coop needs to be built so we can have the broiler birds going by about next May (plenty of time).  This coop is a part of the existing one.  It won’t be as big a project as the first one.  Broilers don’t need roosts, nesting boxes, etc. and the fencing and building are already constructed.  I need to build a floor, install one wall, an automatic chicken door and a people door.  We then need to get the “sanitary” processing equipment.

So off I go to make some righteous homemade pizza.  Tonight its home made whole wheat pizza crust, our own dehydrated tomatoes, our own garlic, and our own eggplant, topped with cheese from Zina’s company.  I love homesteading!

The birds are all about the size of basket balls now.  We have made the change from growing food rations to adult hen layer feed.  All growed up!  Can’t wait to see the first eggs!

Dig A Hole, Put A Post In It. Dig A Hole, Put A Post In it. Rinse, Repeat

This infernal fence has got to be the last back breaking project for awhile.  Farmer Jon’s ass is draggin’.   If you have never worked on a tractor, you might think that the engine does all the work.  HONK, Wrong! Thanks for playing.  When that post hole digger is on, that machine will shake you to death!  This is one of the more frustrating projects I’ve done.  Part of it is because I am kind of rushing to get the posts in ahead of any big freeze (just what I’d need is frozen ground.  Ground that is already hard like Native American Clay Pots!)  The ground is unbelievably hard to get into.  My 23 horse tractor stalls out on just about every hole.

I am convinced that the universe has a very playful side and that when I do projects there is some invisible little Sprite just messing with me anyway it can!  Guys you know what I mean.  All you want to do is run an electric cord out to do some work….. easy right…. WRONG!  It gets hung up on everything!  Its tangled and doesn’t roll out nice and neatly.  You want to pull out a hose because you need to use the power washer to soften up the ground for the next hole.  Easy?  WRONG!  The hose finds any and all corners, lifts, edges and crannies to lodge itself into and you have to walk 50 yards to free the thing.  You know of which I speak.  You’ve got ONE LAST screw to put in to hang up a feeder in the coop.  You try to get it in place and POP! it falls into the chicken feed and now you have to drop everything, dig through it and find it!  And the list goes on and on and on.  Sprites messing with you so that nothing goes swimmingly!!  Gotta keep a sense of humor.  The Sprite best stay invisible too because if I ever caught the little gremlin………

Anywho, I now have 40 of the 53 posts dug in.  Trying to align them is a bit of a trick and I had two posts that were about a foot or so out of true with the rest of the posts I put in this morning.  So, being the perfectionist, I pulled the posts out, filled in the old holes and got started on the new ones.  The Sprite emerged!!  The two do over holes proved to be the absolute worst of the day!  I had blogged before about how hard the ground is.  By jamming a power washer into the ground the dirt can be loosened a bit and it doesn’t stick quite so badly.  Not so today!  The first do over hole was so hard the digger got stuck to the gear box again.  I had to flip on the PTO, watch the shaft turn maybe a 16th of a turn, flip off the PTO so as not to stall the tractor, and repeat that at least 50 times.  I was really starting to worry that I was going to rip up the hydraulics on the tractor.

After finally getting that one done (a very dry hole), I moved on to the second do over.  OMG!!!  This was the reverse of the first one.  I stuck the power washer down into the ground and soaked it up really good.  Too good it turns out.  This one was like a chocolate mud hole!  The auger got away from me and drilled itself all the way into the ground and I was hosed.  This was goo.  The Sprite turned the tables on me.  This time the auger would spin but the hydraulics on the 3 point hitch couldn’t pull it back out of the ground!!  It would just sit there buried 3 1/2 feet in the ground and spin like a kitchen mixer!!  I went to the barn, got the floor jack and tried to get it out that way but all it did was lift the tractor off the ground!

I tried again and let it spin for awhile.  Eventually the cork screw shaped auger belched out a tube of mud that looked like the consistency of pink slime!  It rattled, groaned and belched and finally freed itself.  Anyone who has ever stepped into a deep mud hole wearing a pair of muck boots can understand this.  The mud acted like a giant suction and all the auger did by spinning was seal the mud in around itself.  Thanks to the Sprite, I was very concerned that the auger was going to spend the winter in that hole.  It finally gave way and all is forgiven.  Beware of construction Sprites, they will mess with you when you least expect it.

So I figure I have maybe two more days of post hole digging.  Then they all get leveled and cemented in, the gates go up and the fencing gets nailed in place.  I will NOT be doing this again anytime soon!

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Fall Is Here And Harvest Is Winding Down

We got most of the city garden put to bed this past week.  Still some to do but most of it is done.  While pulling up all of the tomato vines we discovered that we had about half a bushel of tomatoes yet to pick!  Woohoo!  I got to try out my birthday present!  Zina bought me a jehnyouwine Eyetalian Eeeelectric tomato masher!  No more having to grind them for sauce all by hand!!  Electric motors and spinning things are wonderful inventions!  Just in the city we harvest at least 250 lbs of tomatoes a year.  All of the tomatoes that we don’t just freeze or can whole have to be run through a food mill so that the skin and seeds are removed.  This can take hours by hand, and necessitate serious neck and shoulder massages!  This beastie went through a half bushel of tomatoes inside 15 minutes.  I figure that if Aaron is going to be the engineer and not the farm hand, and Zina is at work and a part time farm hand, I need at least some gizmos to keep me from passing out!  This was just the ticket.  The sauce is on the stove cooking down and the whole house smells great!


Playing With The Big Toys

This morning Zina looked out the window and was surprised to see farmer Brad and his big toy tractor.  We had noticed that the property had been disced (plowed to get ready for seeding) but couldn’t tell if it had been drilled (a seed drill is a gizmo that puts seed into the ground and then covers it up so it doesn’t blow away.  Evidently it had not been and Brad came tooling through the property, seed drill in tow.  It didn’t take him a half an hour to plant 30 acres with winter wheat.  Hopefully, come next spring our fields will be green with growing wheat and then “amber waves of grain” by the 4th of July.

While these folks can cover an awful lot of ground, man is it inefficient.  We have had our whole field exposed to the air all summer.  The wind has blown away soil, dust gets on everything, and it seems that a tractor, diesel fuel, Round-up, and seeding, followed by swathing and threshing with another big combine burning diesel, is what modern farming has become.  It is likely that next year we will cut his access in half, re-seed haying grass to the front half and start rotational grazing of some fashion or another.  Also, because the big organic garden will at least have SOME planting in it next spring, I can’t have Mr. Diesel farmer, spraying Round-Up and 2 – 4- D anywhere near it.  At least though, come harvest, when the combine discharges the chaff, we will have some natural muching ground cover.






Looks Like We Need Some Chicken Chaperones

Zina finished up some very exhausting accounting work on Friday.   I have been obsessing over the government shutdown wondering just what these fools are going to do and what I can do to help my clients in the event that cooler heads don’t prevail.  We came out here and crashed.  Saturday (today) after spending the morning with coffee and the iPad for news, I fired up the tractor and went out and continued to dig postholes for the garden fence.  Zina rolled out of the house around noon and cleaned up the coop.

It looks like we are going to need some chicken chaperones!  The maturest rooster is now crowing.  I don’t know why people find that sound annoying… I think it sounds… farmy.  Ask me again in a year or so when they won’t shut up and I may have a different perspective.  He is hilarious though.  They are all 13 weeks old this weekend and it sounds like if you simply convert weeks into years the roosters are 13 year old boys who’s voices are starting to change.  They are getting their shiny rooster plumage as well.  Their voices, combined with a maturing body they don’t know what to do with, makes for some entertainment.  The hens DON’T agree however!  While the roosters are trying their “techniques” the only thing happening to the hens is loss of neck feathers.  There is screeching and kicking and more of a fight than finesse.  The roosters come away looking pretty stupid and the hens, disgusted.  I remember just what they are going through! ; )

Here are the latest chicken shots…. this time mostly roosters.  The one hen (that we have named “feets” because of her orange legs – all the others have kind of a tan color) that has sort of bonded with me still runs out to greet me every evening and hops up on my shoulder and spends the evening whispering little chicken nothings in my ear.

Sorpresa (spanish for Surprise) is the stand-off-ish lady.  She very much does NOT want to be held.  Tonight she had to earn her corn treats and let me hold her.  There was much squawking and feather flapping but she eventually settled in.

So we are expecting to start seeing some eggs in about two months.  It may take longer though because that puts them around mid – December.  The days are short then and hens need 14 hours a day of daylight in order to lay eggs.  Thats ok.  Now that we understand the whole easter eggs delivered by bunnies in the spring time (new borns in the spring?  Chicken eggs starting up again in the spring because of longer days?  Not the cross and resurrection myth?) it will be fun to have the new and old garden up and running and collecting fresh eggs to boot!

Fresh eggs:


Beloved farm wife bundled up and feeding corn treats:


Feets and daddy:


Rooster centerfolds:

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One rooster with a little class (hey baby wanna nestle up together?).  Sorpresa’s his babe:


The whole crew: