Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Review

Well, we've made it through another year on the farm. Here's a quick review of the highlights of the year.

January is always a time for reflection, and at our house, it's also a time where we see the projects of the year piled up on us! We ended 2009 with a hardwood flooring project that had barely gotten started (we're still working on it!!) and we had the shell of a greenhouse waiting for us in the snow.

January is when we plan what to grow, how many chickens to get and when and what we are going to do for the year. February is when we start making it all happen, and this year, March seemed to be the month when everything DID happen.

In March, when the snow had cleared, and it wasn't too much of a mess to work in, we finally got our greenhouse plastic put up. We put the call out to neighbors and friends, because this was a job that could not be done by two people alone. We got started early, to beat the afternoon wind, and managed to get our greenhouse all put together in one quick day. We celebrated with cinnamon roles! it was a good start to a new year.

In late March and Early April is when the farm started filling up with babies again! We had 10 pregnant sheep, who gave us 16 lambs all within a 2 week span. The one pictured above was little Freddie, one of the first. We were also blessed with Ginger, Trouble, Sparks, Angel, Pebbles, BamBam, Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Arlo, Betty, Wilma, Annie and Simon. Simon shared the same birthday as our other little Lamb, Shannon. Daddy had a busy week running between birthing sheep and us in the hospital. But that's what spring is about! Aside from lambs, and babies - we also filled the brooder up with baby chicks.

And, boy, with the Farmer's Market and everything else on our plates, spring and summer just flew by. No pun intended, the next thing we know, our turkeys are growing big, and have found themselves perched on our patio furniture!!

And since we always have to try new things, we found ourselves a cast-off dairy bull calf to bring home. He was a scrawny little thing. We named him Marlow, and bottle fed him for most of the summer. He's a big boy now!

Summer proceeds to fall, and before we know it, it's time for the sheep to mow the lawn again. We didn't even get out our reel mower once this year. Why would we? These guys mow for free! In this picture, you can see 3 of our ewe lambs that got spared from the BBQ to stay with us as breeding ewes. This is Pebbles, Betty and Trouble. We also kept Angel, she's such a sweetie!!

We had another surprise this fall. Velma, the only sheep who didn't give birth in the spring, must have made "friends" with Charlie Brown or Linus before they went to the processor in spring. She gave birth to lamb number 16 this fall. Shaggy is still with us! Most of the other sheep look to be pregnant again, and hopefully ready to give birth in the next month or so. I just love baby sheep!

This year wasn't all smiles and giggles, though. We said goodbye to our old friend, Grish. The house is much quieter without that grumpy old man, and dare I say a little bit empty, too. We also struggled a bit with our turkeys this year. But it's lessons learned that hopefully we can do better next year. The recession hit us again this year, with Larry losing his job in the fall. He's still looking, but we are hoping for some more activity on the interviewing front after the new year.

So as we round out the end of the year, we had a successful run with the greenhouse for our first summer. Our orchard trees are growing bigger, and Shannon got to eat some fresh pears right off the tree! The flooring project is almost done - we just need to finish the doors and the trim and put our room back together...

From all of use at Long Shadow Farm - Larry, Kristin and Shannon, and Marlow the cow, Atlas, Goliath, Hobbes and Athena (our dogs), Schroediger, Klondike, Boo and Pinky (our kitties) and Shirley, Laverne, Lucy, Velma, Daphne, Alice, Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Gertrude, Trouble, Angel, Betty, Pebbles and Shaggy (our sheep) and all the chickens - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Glue glorious glue!!! Sigh.... I swear that any time you are building something in a house and the instructions say, "Apply glue here" you are probably doing something wrong. Vinyl is for records not for walking on. Wood and stone are for walking on. Because you were a jackass and installed cheap ass flooring I am going to have scrape and sand my subfloor. Thanks.

Note the black stuff? That is mold. We will get to WHY that is on my floor in a bit. Happily the subfloor nor the studs are damamged, they just have a little mold on the surface. Contrary to what the dude in the vest at Lowes or Home Depot tell you, you cannot clean mold off wood with bleach. (Its long and involved, but bleach will only kill the mold on the surface, when the mold inside the wood comes back, the bleach is gone.) Happily I found some Sodium Carbonate at Lowes and that WILL do the job. It leaves a surface residue that kills the mold that trys to "come back".

More pictures of mold on the studs. I'm so incredibly pissed off at the person who built this tub surround.

This is why I'm so mad. A VAPOR BARRIER!!! ARGHHHH!!!!! OK, lets talk vapor for a bit. A vapor barrier would be fine on the other side of Cement Backer Boards. (known as Cement Building Units or CBU) The problem is, the assbite who built my shower stuck the tile to DRYWALL! Hey dude... if the word Drywall didn't clue you in, there is probably no hope for you. Cement is not "water proof", it simply isn't damaged by water. In fact, a CBU can be soaked, stay soaked, and be so wet it rots the 2x4s that it is attached to and suffer no damage at all..... at least, untill the 2x4s rot away and collapse. That is why you would install a vapor barrier on the other side of a CBU. By using drywall you are saying, "no enough water is going to penetrate the tile (LOL) so I figure this will stay dry". In that case, installing a vapor barrier just ensures that any water that DOES get through the tile totally destroys the dry wall. (I pulled the dry wall off the studs with my hands.... usually one fist full at a time because it was mush) Its like the person who installed my tub surround read a book about how to build things correctly....and then did the opposite.
Strangely enough... they decided that this whole mosture barrier thing was like too hard to do around the waste vent pipe (the big black thing) and so they just quit. ARGHHH!!!! WTF people... either you NEED the moisture barrier or you don't. I can't see any logic that yields, "I need 50% of the tube covered, the rest can have no barrier that will be fine".

So in this next pic, you can see why the wife is so pissed off at me. That is the attic you see under the slanted exterior wall. Yeah... the unheated attic. Exposed to the unheated garage. IE.... its freaking cold. And its pouring cold air into the house. While I write this, I have since fixed the problem by installing unfaced insulation into those interstud spaces. It is much warmer now. (recall the only heat we can afford to run is the wood stove..... only the babies room gets the electrical ceiling heat turned on)