Saturday, June 26, 2010

fun with friends . . .

I finished the table the other day ready for THIS session of butchering. I added quite a few items to it, and after yesterday's work, have already made some changes in how we will use it.

First off, I stained it the same as the killing cones to create a unified butchering set. I love when things are functional, yet aesthetic as well. The oil from the stain also helps to repel the water when spraying. In addition to the stain, I added aluminum to the work area. I used flashing that is normally used for roofing. I bought a 10 foot roll for $12.00, cut it to fit the feathering and cleaning area of the table, and have heeps of it to use for another farm project. Some plumbing parts, an area to hang the hose, a table, some chairs, a fan, and a screened-in room made this butchering session seem like a HOTEL STAY compared to last year. All in all, I am REALLY pleased with how it turned out, but more importantly how it functioned for us. (I do have to make a few minor adjustments and it will be even smoother for the next thirty we process in five more weeks)

In addition to having a new table to work with, we also had some help this time processing our birds. The Weita family, longtime friends from our California days, came up from Florida to visit us for a few days on their way over to Illinois. They came in Tuesday night and stayed till this morning. It was great to spend time together again extending our friendship, having the children get re-acquainted after five years, and sharing some memorable experiences together. We had great food, stayed up WAY too late talking, and had fun doing all sorts of farm activities.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

drawing out the design . . .

Butchering season is upon us now so I had to come up with another plan for dressing out the 100 or so birds that we will have. Hence, the NEW Butchering Station!

For weeks I have been looking for stainless steel sinks, counters, and tables on Craigslist and have decided that I do not want to spend $150 to $300 on a used bakery counter or a restaurant sink. I found a stainless steel sink for $20 though, and thought that was right up my alley. I had been thinking about building a table but was unsure of what I wanted, materials to use, and the sorts. This is the result (the beginning stage) of sitting down after morning milking, drinking coffee, half sleeping, and planning out the table.

The plan for the table started with several ideas in mind.

1. All of us needed to be close together able to hand birds to each other without walking around. It also had to be a condensed square footage to fit into our camping screened-in room. (we learned last year that it was hard to keep the animals away from all the excitement)

2. It needed to include several areas for working . . . sink for evisceration ans cleaning birds, counter space for plucking, area for cutting, containers for feathers and unwanted bird parts, and drainage.

3. And most importantly, aesthetic functionality.

During my sleep/plan/lazy morning routine, I drew out a design several times, and then asked the children to look at it and give me input. Each one came up with a minor change that altered the design a bit, but functioned well with the overall plan of the Butchering Station.

It took me a 1/2 day to build, and the other 1/2 day to stain, seal, and apply the finishing touches.

Friday, June 4, 2010

getting the garden game going . . .

Today is the FIRST day of summer break for me. What a different year this has been. I enjoyed the school year, we bought this farm, and we bought a car. Tons of changes going on all at once. And I love it!

First off, a couple of weeks ago some friends planned a move out of state, and needed to sell their car. Ildi and I decided that it would not only help them out, but help us out on my gas spending commute to school. As a result, we bought this 99 Saturn, pictured above, with a WHOLE BUNCH OF MILES on it. :) Works out great so far in that I have saved $60. in just two weeks.

Gresham has started in the building process of our farm. He is being such a great help in many ways. This past week he helped Nolan building a new movable chicken structure for the upcoming egg production business. 40 new laying hens will be arriving next week some time. It is really sweet to see Nolan working with his younger brother having him help the way he did with me when he was that age.

I have come up with some really creative ways to use the unwanted hay that is littering our fields. The busted beef operation that was going on before we bought this place left TONS of unusably large mounds of hay on much of the open pasture. This past week it dawned on me that I could re-purpose it and use it like much like mulch for areas where I don't want the grass to grow. Like this path I cut through a spot of trees. It so works out that it will cover the ground not letting grass grow, it looks nice, and it gets it out of the fields re-purposing it. This type of stuff makes me happy!

And now we are getting our serious garden game face on. We have planted one of the 6000 square foot of gardening we are doing this season. We plowed out 4 paddocks (each 1500 sq. ft.) and have gotten one of them finished around all the rain we have been getting. Yesterday it didn't rain, and if it stays dry and hot today, I will be able to get the other three areas prepped and ready for the family to "plant out" the rest of our ambitious planting plan. The statement "jump in head first" seems appropriate for this season of life for us.