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!
With just 44 days left until my last day at work, I am at a loss for things to do in preparation for the big move. We have almost worked out the choreography for our trip, including when I will take the pick-up to Nebraska, when the moving truck will come and go and when it needs to get to NE, when we will move out of our house and into a hotel for the moving days. We don’t want to go public with the days because our neighborhood is a bit prone to stealing, so we don’t want to take the chance that the 2-3 people who will look at this blog between now and then might know someone in our neighborhood.
The transition has been moving slowly — I have changed the address on my resume to reflect the Sterling address. I am contemplating changing my phone number from a Phoenix number to a Nebraska number.
Gina’s dad is planning to help out quite a bit with the move, which should be nice.
Yesterday, Caleb & I ‘finished’ putting together the Whizbang Garden Cart. It is now a functional cart. We still need to put the finishing touches on it, though, including a handle, and sanding, sealing, and staining it. It should be picture-ready before we leave!
One of my desired projects on the farm will be the building of a root cellar so we can naturally store food. I have been reading the book Root Cellaring by the Bubles, and I have been thinking of possible locations for the root cellar, and I see four basic possible locations, listed from simplest to most complex:
1. We could partition off a corner of the basement and insulate it from the heat of the house. This is the easiest, cheapest, and also least reliable.
2. The initial vision I had of the root cellar was to put it to the south of the house, with the entrance facing North, so that when Gina walks out the kitchen door and crosses the driveway, she reaches the root cellar. This would probably be a fairly straightforward application and would be cost-effective.
3. We could dig out the ground to the North of the house and have the root cellar rest against the North side of the house. One of the issues with our house is that in the past the North wall has bowed in a bit from the pressure of the land around it. I am thinking that if I dig out the land, it will relieve that pressure so the wall can straighten back up. Also, the presence of the root cellar there would/could continue to protect the North wall from that pressure in the future. I like this idea because historically root cellars were on the North side of the house in order to protect against too much solar heat gain. Also, with the root cellar being connected to the basement, it will be easily accessible no matter how bad the weather is, and it could easily be used as a storm cellar without having to run across the yard.
4. The final idea is one that may be a bit hare-brained. We could dig out around the pump house, thus allowing the root cellar to perform triple duty as a storm cellar and a pump house also. With the pump house being in the root cellar, this would provide additional insulation to the piping — right now I have to turn on an incandescent bulb in the pump house when the temperatures are expected to drop below 0°. Also, the water running through the root cellar is supposed to provide additional temperature controls — I wonder if it will contribute to maintaining humidity?
Caleb & I began assembling the cart this week. I still don’t have all the parts we need, but we have started putting the parts we have together. I put some J-bead over the top edges of the three vertical sheets of plywood. The J-bead I found did not have holes every inch, like that shown in Herrick’s book. I looked at Ace, Lowe’s, & Home Depot and couldn’t find J-bead with holes, so I just punched through the J-bead with a nail, then screwed through the nail-hole.
Yesterday, Caleb & I reinforced the bottom piece by attaching 1x4s at crucial locations. This will keep the bottom piece of plywood from splintering when heavy loads are dumped in. The next step is to attach the legs to the side pieces. We are moving along slowly — slower than I wanted. But then, I rarely want to work in the garage when the garage temperature is 110°!
Last night, we continued our work on the Whizbang Garden Cart by cutting up the one 2×4 and the four 1x4s. There were to be four rough cuts on the 2×4, so I had Caleb mark the locations for the cuts, then I cut the first two cuts using the power compound miter saw my wife gave me as a gift years ago. I then had Caleb cut the third cut and Meagan did the fourth cut. After that, the kids disappeared while I started working the 1×4 cuts. We completed all the straight cuts last night.
I mentioned that the cuts on the 2×4 were just rough cuts; each of the 5 pieces we created need to be cut down further. All of the 2×4 boards need to be ripped to a narrower size, something I don’t know how to do without a table saw. I need to figure out a way to do this without a table saw or I need to find a table saw I can use, because there is no way I can work a table saw into the budget for this garden cart.
Last night I also realized that the J-bead I picked up for this project does not have the holes every inch that it is supposed to have, so I am considering going back to Home Depot tonight to exchange the J-bead for what I need.
In other news, we have been seeing and feeling the baby move in Gina’s tummy! She is at twenty weeks, so we are halfway. I looks like 11 September will be our last day in Phoenix and 11 November is the due date!