For the last week-and-a-half, I have been on an electronic gaming vacation. Normally, I am quite obsessive about playing electronic games (on the computer or Nintendo). But, of course, this takes time away from things I should be doing: reading, checking on the animals, farm projects. I don’t normally allow the games-playing to interfere with absolute essentials, but it does normally limit the amount of time I have available for the important things. So I am taking a vacation from that so that I can focus more on reading, animals, and projects.
It has been great so far. Occasionally, I am tired, frustrated, and bored and really want to play, but I resist the temptation. The progress I have made in the garage has been great! I have finished putting insulation and drywall on the walls, and now I have a stack of drywall for the ceiling. I bought a drywall lift that allows me to lift the sheets of drywall to the ceiling without any help, thus making this a one-person job. I have put up six of the sheets so far — it is a bit slow-going, but it seems to be working well. The biggest challenge is working around all the junk I have accumulated in the garage. I plan to try to complete the drywall on the ceiling this weekend, then I will want to get insulation to blow into the attic space. I also still need to cut out the soffit vents and install the chimney for the wood-burning stove. Once the insulation is blown into the attic space, I want to put some decking in the attic space in order to provide a platform to store items in that attic space. Hopefully this can all be done by mid-January.
Future projects still include:
- repairing the minivan from its trip into the ditch (before February);
- putting a roof and walls on the duck-house (before mid-March);
- fencing pasture to prepare for trees and water pipes (unknown deadline)
- digging holes for trees (by mid-April);
- preparing the garden by moving pigs out to pasture, preparing beds/paths (by mid-May);
- building a whizbang chicken scalder (before Summer);
I feel like there are more projects in need of my attention, but I can’t think of them now. But even this exercise has been helpful — bottom line is I need to complete the garage and get the minivan fixed immediately. So that I can get to the other projects in a timely manner.
And why is it just 3° when I wake up in March? I thought it would be warmer. I am still in need of long, warm days without rain to ‘finish’ the garage. Now more than ever I want it done, because the chickens have discovered what a wonderful place it is to hang out, lay eggs, and roost in the rafters! I want to put a whole in the roof for a chimney, so I can install the shingles around it and keep the rain out, and I want to install the garage door before much longer, in order to keep the chickens out. I am looking at taking some time off from work in order to get these things done.
I also want to build a portable chicken coop soon. I am thinking of using skids rather than a wagon or trailer. I am hoping to build it light enough that it won’t get too stuck in any mud. I need to plan it out, but I am thinking it will be 8×12 and will serve as a place for the chickens to roost in at night and to lay their eggs.
I also need to build a chicken tractor (for 25 meat birds) and rabbit tractors (3) for the spring. I found some plans I want to use and will post them as soon as I remember where I found them.
I really want to start fellowshipping regularly with other members of Christ’s body. We have met many believers here in Johnson County that I am just so excited about, including one man who works at the prison with me and also home schools his children.
I am frustrated with the cold and with my growing list of things to get done. I need help, but grow tired of asking for help.
As a piece of good news, I did finally receive my discharge certificate from the Air Force, so I have completed my application for the reserves and am looking forward to hearing about my assignment.
God bless you with grace and peace.
Above is an old picture, from November 15, but it shows us putting up the roofing felt. The roofing felt is done, all of the sheathing has been put on the walls, and I have rolled out most of the wrap that will help insulate the garage. I also have started applying the shingles, and hope to continue with shingling tomorrow. It has been cold and windy, but I would still like to get some rudimentary covering over the garage before Winter really strikes. This was my October project. And Gina’s new kitchen cabinets come on Friday.
Still no baby.
Garage construction has been creeping along. I don’t think I realized how proportionately small the work to put up the skeleton of the garage was, compared to the actual completing of the job. It took far longer than I expected to get the garage sheeted. And I thought rolling out the roofing felt would fly by, but it also took longer than one day (I can only work about 3-4 hours in a day due to work). I am now, though, to the point of nailing on shingles and I see that there is a possibility of snow on Wednesday. Looks like I won’t be beating the weather.
Above is a photo from our day of putting up the trusses, taken by my neighbor, Robert Becker, the photographer for the Lincoln newspaper.
Another photo of putting up trusses by the same famous photographer.
With abundant help from Hannah & Lizzie, Caleb & Meagan, and Terry, we have completed 90% of the sheeting on the garage, have attached the fascia and rake, have attached the drip edges and have rolled out the felt paper on the roof. Tonight I nearly completed the first three rows of shingles. Following is a picture of the front of the garage from about a week ago:
And a photo of Terry, Daniel, & I discussing attaching the fascia:
I think I must lack patience, because as I look back over the last year or so, I realize that I have talked alot about waiting. Waiting for the purchase of our house, waiting for the adoption, waiting to get out of the Air Force, waiting still for our baby Abby, waiting now to get into the Air Force Reserve. We never thought we would be two days from the due date and still waiting for our baby. Both of our earlier babies were born in hospitals and Gina was induced early (6 days early for Caleb & 2 weeks early for Meagan). Last Saturday, the midwife told us that the head was engaged and that she didn’t expect us to make it to the next appointment without calling her. On Monday morning, Gina woke up with some contractions, but they went away eventually. She has had nearly constant Braxton-Hicks (sp?) contractions.
The last two days I have made some good progress on the garage, which is a much larger project than I had realized. I have finished sheathing the walls and yesterday, with the help of Hannah & Lizzie, we nearly finished sheathing the roof. I plan to finish sheathing the roof this morning and possibly getting the gable-end supports up this morning. On Saturday morning, I will want to tack on the fascia and rake boards, tack on the fascia drip edge, roll out the roofing felt (I’ll need staples that fit my staple gun), and tack on the rake drip edge.
The problem with this plan is I was thinking of changing from a turbine vent to a ridgeline vent. I would need to spend some time in Lincoln in order to accomplish this, and I don’t know when I plan on making it to Lincoln. Maybe I could just install a vent in the gable end, underneath the overhang, something louvered. That should provide adequate ventilation without creating all the issues of cutting through the roof and helping my roof to leak.
I really don’t have anything to write about tonight, but I have time on the computer, so I might as well write something. I am finishing up my training in the prison this week — next week I will be on my own. I really like my new shift — I work 2pm to 10pm. Every day feels like a day off until about 1:15, when I leave to go to work. The days off feel even more like days off! The only thing we are having trouble with is me returning from work at 10:30 each night. That really infringes on my ability to get up at 4:30 each morning.
Gina is very pregnant and very ready to give birth. The due date is still nine days away and we think we have everything ready for our very first home birth. We even have a pool set up in our dining room! We can’t wait!
Work continues on the garage. 15 out of 16 trusses are up and I have started putting sheathing on the roof. I was helped out this evening for about an hour by my neighbors, Jacob & Elizabeth, and I anticipate that Jacob & Daniel will make it by tomorrow. I hope to get the roof close to finished tomorrow, which will require putting up the last truss, putting up another 24 sheets of 4×8 sheathing, and putting up the four ladders for the gable-end overhangs that Terry & I put together last weekend. I am always overambitious. The next step, I think, will be to roll out the roofing felt(?) and then start shingling, which is likely something I will work on alone. I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.
The chickens are doing quite well and are growing very big. We picked up more straw bales for them and I hope to buy some fencing to create a temporary run for them. They are eating about 80 pounds per week of feed, which is costing quite a bit, so I want to find another source of chicken feed. We hooked them up on a thermostatically controlled outlet, so their heating lamps will now only kick on when the temperature drops below 35°, and will turn off when the temperature gets back up over 45°. The chickens are now 5-and-a-half weeks old.
Still no new job offers and no new ideas or thoughts or discussions about starting a Bible fellowship here. I have been grappling with the thought of whether God is calling us to have a home-based Bible fellowship, perhaps meeting in the new garage with a wood-burning stove for heat. I also have been struggling with the meaning of my new job and whether it is what God has called me to or if there are just valuable lessons for me to learn there.
This weekend’s garage-building did not go quite as well as planned. Terry came to help in the morning, and together we worked a bit on side sheathing and we built the ladders for the gable-end overhangs. About the time that my neighbors Daniel, Hannah, and Elizabeth showed up, though, he had to leave. The four of us then started putting up the 16 trusses that will hold up the garage roof. This is where our troubles began. We weren’t sure (and still aren’t sure) of how to anchor the end trusses. So we spent our time working on the common trusses that occupy the center of the garage. We worked out a system of swing them skyward and nailing them in place using the anchors provided with the kit, but what we didn’t do, that we should have done, was to verify that each truss was standing vertical before we started nailing. All of the trusses have a lean to the South. We didn’t recognize the problem until we tried loading the first sheet of OSB on to the roof. When I realized the extent of the problem, I threw in the towel for the night (it was 9:00 and I was quite tired), even though I would be losing the help of Daniel.
On Sunday, we did church at home in the morning, I did a little work on the garage, but it was quite windy, so we drove to Lincoln in the afternoon to order Gina’s kitchen (it was the last day to get in on a special deal). During the little bit of time that I worked on the garage, I managed to straighten one of the trusses and nail the sheet of OSB onto it. So I think there are now three trusses that are standing close to vertical, at least in the bottom 4 feet. I really need someone to help me by either straightening the trusses while I nail or by nailing as I straighten the trusses. I also need another ladder because I can’t stand dragging the ladder back and forth, especially since the ladder doesn’t fit through the door of the garage.
This isn’t what I had planned for my 100th post (I had nothing in particular planned, but I certainly didn’t plan on whining). As my Mom always said: “This too shall pass.”
One of the activities we have been doing in our spare time has been to build a garage. I had been doing the framing whenever I got a few hours of daylight and it wasn’t raining. I had been working 6am – 6pm Monday through Friday, so there weren’t many daylight hours. Then, we got something like 16 inches of rain in October, leaving few days when things were dry. But last Saturday, we had some help graciously come by to help me stand up the walls we had built. Our help included our wonderful neighbors to the South: Robert, Lesa, Daniel, Hannah, Jacob, Caleb, and Samuel. We were also helped quite a bit by Gina’s Uncle Rob and her cousin’s husband, Terry, and Terry’s son, Tate.
We hope to continue the work started last Saturday by putting up the trusses today, starting at 9:00 am. Although I must confess, I am not quite ready for the help to arrive. So I better get out there and start working.
I have been having a hard time telling folks around here that we own a farm, because they invariably ask what my crop is. So I had taken to telling folks that I am a farmer without a crop and with no livestock. Well, all that change about a week-and-a-half ago. On a Thursday morning, my wife and kids went down to the post office and picked up our very first livestock: 78 chicks. We ordered 25 brown-egg layers, 25 rainbow-egg layers, and 25 heavy breed males from Murray McMurray and they have finally arrived. Initially we put them all in a 2×6 foot trough, but they quickly outgrew that and are now living in two troughs.
They are growing quickly and are starting to stink up my basement. Following are two pictures of them from that first day:
I will try to post some two-week-old shots later this week.
So the next project for the chickens is to get them out of my house and into their own house. One of the quaint old structures on our place, they I never figured I would use, is a chicken coop, which came complete with busted out old windows and windows that had been boarded up. Most recently, the denizens of our coop were a pride of cats that seems to have largely disappeared. As I said, the chicks have got to move out of my house and into their own house. More to follow on this one:
Caleb & I finished building our Whizbang Garden Cart and used it for the first time this morning. I decided to paint it with some left over exterior paint we had laying around. I had been, and may still be, hoping to paint some designs on it like an old hippie VW bus-van. The construction was fairly easy to follow, although at first I was following blindly until I figured out what was going on. It is very solidly constructed, well balanced, and I love the wheels.
Unfortunately, I still live in the Valley of the Sun and my backyard is as agrarian of a setting as I can find at this point. In just a few short weeks, our Whizbang Garden Cart will be in the most agrarian of agrarian settings, when it makes it to our farm in Nebraska! I can’t wait — we are less than three weeks away!