Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Garden - Spring 2016

With us coming out of Winter heading into Spring, it was time to start getting the gardens in shape for warm-weather planting!


Weeds and Mulching

Lots of weeds this year -- I don't know if it's because of the mild Winter or not, but there are a bunch of them. This was Garden 2:

Garden After Winter


However, it's not all bad! Here is one of several volunteer turnips coming from seeds I planted probably a couple of years ago! I think I'm just going to start throwing down turnip seeds all over the mulch garden beds from now on!

Volunteer Turnip


Sue & I started chopping down the weeds using yo-yos (I looked it up, and apparently that is indeed what they're called) in preparation for laying down a new layer of mulch across the whole garden area:

Chopping Down Weeds


And here is about half of the garden chopped down:

Weeds Chopped


And then the first mulch load laid down and spread out. Looks like probably four loads to cover all of Garden 2:

First New Mulch Section


Compost

With the trouble last year getting plants started from seed directly in the mulch beds, I really figured I need to get a composting system running well.

In a previous blog post almost three years ago, I mentioned the compost container we have been trying to use. It's been sitting there full of all of the stuff I gathered I think from the chicken tractor and maybe goat fields for probably a couple of years. Well, I planned to take what was in it and move it to inside Garden 1 so I could start turning it more, as I picked up from a local friend that he turns his piles apparently after each rain; and when I opened the lid, there was barely anything in there! I was quite puzzled -- where did it all go?

Cylinder Container Compost Pile


But, in looking close at the bottom, lo and behold, there was nice deep, rich looking soil! Wow! And very nice!

New Composted Soil


Here's a wheelbarrow full of it, clumped because it's wet:

Wheelbarrow of New Composted Soil


Excellent! I also have a pretty big pile of chicken droppings/hay and wood ashes going in Garden 1 that I hope now by turning it over it will compost better.


Thanks to the Lord for granting the new soil, and we pray for continued guidance always. And may He help us in continuing to prepare the gardens, and we pray He might grant food from them this year!

-- David

Monday, March 14, 2016

A House - Update XL - Kitchen Counter & Sink, & Birdhouse 2

With the kitchen siding in place, it was time to install the kitchen counter and sink.


Kitchen Counter Top

I decided to go with a pre-formed laminate one as it was going to be easier, more cost effective, and I believed better quality than if I were to try to make one myself.

Sue had decided she didn't want permanent cupboards below the counter top, so my plan was to build bracing that attached to the wall studs, and this is what I came up with. There is a cross 2x4 attached to the wall studs, then the counter top braces extending from the wall on top of that, and then diagonal braces from the top brace to the wall stud:

Kitchen Counter Bracing


For the corner, I just put braces across from back board to back board:

Kitchen Counter Corner Bracing


Once the bracing was completed, I tied the corners together with glue and the provided nuts and bolts in the pre-cut areas:

Kitchen Counter Corner Tied Together with Bolts


Here are the screws I decided to use to tie down the counter top to the top braces. They have a larger, flat head that I hoped would help pull the counter to the brace:

Screws to Tie Down Kitchen Counter to Bracing


I had Sue sit on the counter and push down to get the counter to set against the top braces while I screwed it down, and here is the counter tied down to a brace:

Kitchen Counter Tied Down to Bracing


And here is the counter top installed!

Kitchen Counter Right Side

Kitchen Counter Left Side


Kitchen Sink

We decided to go with a stainless steel kitchen sink, to be placed between two braces. When I initially measured, it appeared it was going to fit nicely, but I eventually ran into some issues...

When cutting on a laminate top, you're apparently supposed to put tape down to help keep the laminate from cracking as you cut:

Tape Laid Out for Kitchen Sink


Then, you lay the sink down upside down, trace around it, then draw a cut line inside the trace line, the width according to the instructions that come with the sink:

Kitchen Sink Cutting Marks on Tape


I used a jig saw with laminate blade to cut out the main section:

Kitchen Sink Main Cutout


Then used a coping saw for the back part as I couldn't get close enough with the jig saw to the back cut line:

Coping Saw Cutting Back of Kitchen Sink Cutout


One issue I ran into was the sides of the hole ended up going over the bracing, and so I used a skill saw set to counter-top depth to make the initial cut of the sides, and then needed to chisel out the rest:

Chiseling Out Kitchen Counter on Top of Bracking


And here is a side completed:

Kitchen Sink Side Chiseled Out


Sadly though, on the right side, I apparently didn't chisel down far enough in the corner, and it slightly cracked up the laminate. I ended up just gluing it and caulking it, which appears to have worked ok:

Laminate Crack


Another problem I ran into was that the sink tubs wouldn't fit completely between the braces, so I needed to cut off a little of the brace siding:

Kitchen Counter Trimmed Bracing


And then, another issue was how to clamp the sides of the sink to the counter top. For that, I drilled holes and chiseled out a hole in the brace, and enough underneath to reveal some of the counter top so the clamp would have something to grab on to. You can see here at the top of the hole a little of the counter top exposed. Given the design of the brace, I could only really use one clamp on the sides even though you're supposed to use two -- I just hope that ends up being enough :) :

Kitchen Sink Clamp Cutout in Counter Brace


Once all cutting, etc. was complete, I put down the caulk bead:

Kitchen Sink Caulk Bead


And then placed the sink in place, and clamped it down in a star-like pattern, starting from the inside clamps outward according to the directions:

Kitchen Sink Counter Clamps


And then I added more caulking from the outside, stuffing it under any slight gaps between the sink and counter top, and then tried to smooth it all out. And I put a couple of jugs of water to try to help keep pressing it down with the caulking cures:

Kitchen Sink Installed


To finish, I put in caps with caulking to plug the faucet holes:

Kitchen Sink Installed


And added the plumbing, which we plan to run into a bucket, at least for now:

Kitchen Sink Installed


So far after several days of the caulk around the sink curing, without using it yet, it seems to have sealed up. I guess we'll know more over time and usage. :)


Birdhouse 2

Last but not least, young Abram Stonger made us another birdhouse, and here it is in place. Thanks to you, Abram, and a fine job!

New Birdhouse


And both birdhouses from the boys:

Both Birdhouses


As always, we are grateful to the Lord for granting the resources, designs and abilities to continue to work on the house! We always pray our place will be one of worship to Him!

-- David

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Musical Roosters

A couple of times now, we've had roosters at some point in their lives have crows that sound like familiar human tunes! It brings a smile to my face when I hear them, in just how much their crows sound like a snippet of a familiar song or piece of music.

Anyway, here is a video of them in action -- the two music compositions being the standard Bridal March and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony! :D See if you can hear the similarities:




We are always grateful to the Lord for His continued provisions, both spiritually and temporally, and we thank Him for these little gifts of farm fun He grants out here!

-- David