Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunny Days

Cold, sunny days are great for construction. If we could just hold the precipitation off until the end of January, the shell of our log home would be complete and under roof.This week the logs for the first floor are finished. On Friday, after New Years Day, a crane will arrive to lift the beams into place. These beams will hold up the second floor loft.....and the main beams are HUGE! You can see the cut outs on the top logs for the ceiling beams.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goatie Treats

Who would have guessed that the pine trees that were felled by last week's ice storm would turn into goatie treats? Amazingly, our goaties love munching the tender pine needles!

Even better than a tasty treat, though, is a chin scratching!


This is our friendliest goat of all.....Spider. Spider was born with contractures in all of his leg muscles...that is, his legs were all stuck in a bent position....unable to stand or walk. Thanks to the great care of Doctor Becky, he is now a proud, athletic goat and one of our favorites! And to think at one point we feared losing him.

Sunday, December 28, 2008




Cleaning Up

Christmas Eve's ice storm left us with a few fallen trees and limbs.Cleaning up was a necessity as one of the trees had fallen over the lane from the barn to the house. This road will be used tomorrow for delivery of our log home beams.Construction continued the day after Christmas. All of the walls seen in the previous pictures were finished up to the level of the beams (ceiling). It is more exciting than I could have imagined. Even though we know this house so well on paper....as it goes up, each little step has surprises along the way.

I was looking at the window frames yesterday, and was amazed at just how enormous the windows are. On paper, they just don't seem so big. It is all good, though, as I like a lot of natural light and the windows are of a good quality and energy efficient.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two days of clear weather, and more logs have gone up. The first floor is not quite complete...but getting a little further along each day. Eventually the inside and the outside of the logs will be stained a bit darker.




A view of the front of the house....lots of doors and big windows on the main floor.
The excavator back-filled around the foundation. Final grading will include digging out the area in front of the lower level door and windows and sloping that area down through the front yard for adequate drainage.
The front of the house has a bumped-out area. Two large French doors will provide lots of light and a wonderful view. Above each of those doors will be trapezoidal windows giving even more light.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bitter Winter Winds

Winter arrived today with a frigid blast of wind and snow showers. This is our little A-frame cottage that serves as home on the farm until construction of our log home is complete. We have replaced the windows with ones that will match the log home's and the exterior of this little cottage will be covered with Log siding to match the exterior of the farm house. This Spring I will paint the front door green to match the windows. It remains a work in progress. It is toasty warm and quite homey inside....so much so, that leaving it at 6 AM to attend to chores is a bit difficult.

Cold weather never seems to be a hardship for the animals...they weather the winter winds quite well.

Ample supplies of hay and feed help all to fight Winter's chill.


Even the ducks seem unaffected by the cold....continuing to paddle around all winter long.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yesterday was quite a productive day on the construction site. The cement truck finally arrived and poured our basement concrete....which remains tucked safely under a warm blanket.


Log placement began and you can see our back wall starting to take shape. As you look at this wall from left to right, you see the small window frame for the laundry room. To the right of that is the window frame that will house my garden window over the kitchen sink. Continuing on to the right is the sliding glass door frame that will open onto the screen porch and then the sliding second set of sliding glass doors in the dining room that will open onto a deck. To the right of that is a window in the study and finally on the far right is the frame for the French door in our master bedroom that will also open onto the back deck.


Each log is numbered and lettered so its exact location is obvious. Between each log is a product called Permachink. This is a type of chinking that lies in the tongue and groove of the logs and serves as a weather seal. Unlike the old round log cabins, this type of chinking is not visible between the logs. These logs are 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide....impervious to the cold winters of Pennsylvania. In these pictures because of the distance away from the logs, it is hard to tell just how sturdy each log is.






Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A New Addition

Meet TomTom. He is our new barn kitty who has come to keep Ella company since the passing of her Charlie Cat.
TomTom is seen here coming down from the hayloft to investigate Maddie, our Newfie. Not caught on camera was his obvious aversion to large black dogs. Claws were unfurled and he let out a big-boy "Hiss" and showed his needle-sharp teeth. Maddie will think twice before messing with TomTom!

He is a very sweet kittie and is the brother to my sister-in-law, Doctor Becky's female kitty, Tony.
Welcome TomTom....now get busy and catch those little mousies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Log Delivery

Today was an exciting day, indeed... our first load of logs was delivered. These logs will make the outside walls of our first floor. Two more deliveries will bring the second floor logs and window jams and roof trusses. Oh if only we could control the weather. By late morning, it started to snow. No work will be done until the weather clears. And to think that every other year I wished for a white Christmas!!

Not this year.... ok... we can have a white Christmas; as long as it melts right afterwards!



It is amazing to me that one man can deliver an enormous load of logs by himself. That crane was amazing! It lifted several pallets of logs with no effort at all and placed them right on the subfloor of the house. From here they will be placed around the outside to form our outside walls.... yes, just like Lincoln Logs!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The World's Largest Raincoat

That is what our house is wearing right now. Construction has been slow due to inclement weather.....lots of rain. The subfloor for the first floor is finished and covered with the world's largest tarp. They have been unable to pour the basement concrete...and that will wait until all threat of rain and snow has passed. As for the logs....perhaps tomorrow! Oh my, that will be so exciting!!Here is Jack pretending to open the refrigerator door. Our kitchen will occupy that triangular area behind where he is standing. It is all so hard to imagine right now.
Now you get a good view of our back yard (woods) and to the right is a path into the woods lined with our firewood.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good Buddies


For now, our dear Lucy Cat lives under our A-frame guest house. She has quite comfortable quarters complete with heater, heat lamp over a stuffed, sheepskin bed, and plenty of food and water. She spends her day supervising the building of our log home and in her spare time sits by the bird feeders waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting birdie. She and Maddie are the best of friends. At first Maddie tried chasing her....which to a Newfie is great sport....but, Lucy just would not run. Maddie has given in to cuddle time, instead.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Job, Mike

Bee Keeper Mike, my brother-in-law, had an article published in Hobby Farms Magazine. The January/February issue has an article entitled "Build Your Lambs a Custom Warming Hut". Mike had built these wonderful cozy, warm huts for our baby goats last Spring and since then we have used them to raise chickens and guineas, too. He wrote this article with precise instructions so that anyone can build one similar....Hobby Farms took it upon themselves to say it is for Lambs. I suppose that is because there is an adorable lamb on the cover.

Congratulations, Mike, it is a great article!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Babies on Board

Becky and I braved the frigid temperatures and checked our female fainting goats for pregnancy. This involves shaving a patch of fur on their underbellies and applying a conductive jelly (brrrrrr, cold!) and then moving the ultrasound probe around against their underbelly. They don't seem to mind....especially since I am feeding them treats throughout the whole procedure.Just as in humans, ultrasound is used to check the presence and development of goat fetuses. Here is a picture of Myrtle's uterus....ooops the twins moved....now it is hard to discern them. So cute.....we could see their little limbs moving and their heads and spines. We did pregnancy checks on Myrtle, Jill and Missy (they were bred in October) and found that both Myrtle and Jill each have twins. Below is Jill, patiently waiting while Becky checks her....especially since there is a steady stream of treats in my hand. With Missy, however, we could found no evidence of pregnancy. Both Myrtle and Jill have gained weight and are getting broad in the bellies. If Missy goes in heat again, we will attempt to breed her again.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This Week's Building Progress

Here is the result of this week's construction work. The floor truss system is almost finished for the first floor. The plumbing and electrical conduit was also laid in the basement floor. Even the dogs are excited about their new house.

Sadie, surveying the site

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sweet Guinea Music

Here are our Rhode Island Reds and Guinea adolescents. Listen carefully and you will hear the lovely song of the guinea. Now you might understand why these birds are such good watchdogs for our farm!
video

Thursday, December 4, 2008

FAQ

I had a few questions regarding my last post and raising chickens. If you are interested in raising chickens, a little research into breeds will tell you what type you prefer. Every different breed has a different egg. There are even chickens who lay green eggs....quite lovely and just as tasty, however much smaller. You do not need a rooster, hens will lay eggs regardless. If you have no rooster, then your eggs are definitely unfertilized. It is all a matter of preference. We prefer to sleep a little later than roosters do....so no Cock-a-Doodle Doing on our farm!!

The Long and the Short of Egg Production

Currently, we have about 30 layers....producing about 15 (plus or minus) eggs a day. We have a dozen more Rhode Island Red adolescents that will begin to lay later this winter. The amazing thing to me is the variety of color and size that we get in any given clutch of eggs. They range from a pinkish brown to a spotted tan/brown and from small to jumbo. Chickens are probably the best investment you can make if you have a little extra land and an absence of zoning restrictions.
Chickens cost relatively little to maintain and more than earn their keep in egg production. Our girls have a constant supply of chicken feed and get our table scraps on top of that. The rule of thumb is...."if you would eat it....so would your chicken". The converse of that is true....don't ever feed your chickens something that you, yourself, would not eat. Since we are very careful about our own diet, our chickens dine like gourmets. During the summer, they get the extra harvest that does not get preserved....tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries are a favorite treat. They also have time every day to roam the farm scavenging for bugs and tasty foliage. This type of diet produces eggs that outshine any that you can buy in a store. In fact, I can assure you we will never again eat pale, tasteless, store-bought eggs. Chickens will always be a part of our farm!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goodbye Charlie Cat

Our dear barn kittie Charlie chased his last mouse, and has joined his old friends in Kitty Heaven. Charlie and his gal, Ella have been our mousers for the past 4 years. Charlie was born in Pennsylvania....town unknown. His youth was spent prowling the streets of Dillsburg, catching his meals wherever he could. He was apprehended by the SPCA and thrown in the Pen for several months, where he was later rescued by us. He was well loved, and loved well. The past 4 years were spent with a warm bed in the barn and plenty of food and drink. His days were punctuated by visits from family and neighbors that always included lots of snuzzling. He had the run of the farm with acres and acres of mice.

Charlie was always skinny and arthritic in his appearance....and he had a snaggle tooth. He was not the most handsome cat, but his wirey looks made us love him all the more. In the end, his heart was just too labored to go on and Charlie gave in to that long, sweet rest that he so deserved.

We will miss you Charlie. The barn just won't be the same without you!

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