Saturday, March 31, 2012


It was a long day, but we did manage to get two coats of paint on all the trim and finish Big John's shop doors. They look pretty good!

They're clad in galvanized tin and wrapped in cedar - and they've given me an idea for shutters, too!

Friday, March 30, 2012


The chicks got moved out of the garage and into the brood pen today. They were happy to have the extra room.

The hens are very curious about their new neighbors.

The feeling was mutual!

Blue was curious too - about Big John's boat. But he's too cool and gorgeous to show it. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Today was such a beautiful day that we put the chicks outside in the "playpen" for a bit, while we painted. They loved it!

Of course, Daisy had to be right there in the middle of things.

And Tribett, with his good manners, came over to introduce himself to the new girls! 


We finally got the perfect weather to paint - warm and calm - so we took advantage of it. Big John and I covered all the windows, posts, and the porch first.

Then Big John cranked up the sprayer and got after it.

And in no time, he was done!

If there's time tomorrow after working in the garden, I'll start painting the trim and doors. And Big John may try to clad his shop doors in tin. It's lookin' good - much better than that pale yellow it's been for so long!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Daisy and Blue

and Pancho

.... checking out the quail.


We're working hard to stay one step ahead of these quickly growing quail. At 3 weeks old, they had outgrown the large brood box Big John built. It was way too crowded - and stinky.

Big John finished up the 4-story estate-sale brood box by wiring heat bulbs at the back of each section.

 The bulbs are separated from the rest of the pen by a wire wall. This keeps the birds and anything else flammable away from the bulbs, but allows them to get close enough to the heat to stay warm. The back half of each floor, where the bulbs are, is covered in OSB - warm and cozy! The front half is covered in 1/2 inch hardware cloth. If they get too hot, the birds can escape the heat and come up front for a breeze.

Wiring complete, bulbs screwed in, and wheels attached, the quail condo was move-in ready!

Since the quail are fully feathered and the days are getting warmer, we decided it was time to move them outside. Plus, with 12 chicks and 37 quail, the garage is really starting to smell. We chose to put them in the goose pen, which offers protection from any late north winds we might get. Tribett wasn't so sure about our decision.

Big John added some tin to the west wall of the goose pen to protect the wiring from rain.

We separated the birds into groups of 10, 9, 9, and 9 - and tried to sex them as well. It was a little too early to tell, so we'll make adjustments this weekend. (Male coturnix have a rust colored breast, while the female's breast is buff colored.)

And with the quail moved into their new home, the chicks got to move into the large brood box - and just in time, as they are growing fast, too.

If you look real closely in the background, you can see Daisy eyeing the chicks.

Where birds are concerned, Daisy is never very far away!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Just because it was a beautiful afternoon and I want some pictures to look at this summer and remember that it was green at one point this year, I took these pics.

This is the view of Tribett that Big John usually sees - right before he strikes!


The quail got their first dust bath today - it was actually a "sand bath." They've needed this for a while, but I kept forgetting to buy some sand.

And as you can see, they like it ...

... a lot!

There are 3 pans of sand in their brood box, along with 3 waterers, 2 feeders, and 37 growing-by-the-minute quail. It's time to move to a bigger place! 

Monday, March 12, 2012


With Spring officially un-officially here (via the arrival of chicks and plants,) Big John and I had big plans for the weekend. We were going to run gas lines, finish installing the paneling, paint and stain the walls, give the new garden a final tilling, and plant all those heirloom tomatoes and pickling cucumbers I've collected recently.

There was just one problem.

It rained. A lot. All weekend. Three inches worth.

But around here, that's a good problem to have! After a long year of very little rain, we're happy to have it. And we'll take any more that comes our way, along with the mosquitoes that can't be far behind, storing it up for July and August.

We were able to get the kitchen paneling painted.

And we got most of the rehab done on a bird pen we picked up at that same amazing estate sale - the one with the incubators and hatchers. I believe this will be the next move for the quail, in the next week or so.

They're getting so big so quickly that I think they'll appreciate some more space.

It's supposed to be warm (and humid) and drier this week, so hopefully next weekend we can get those tomatoes in the ground. Thank goodness for the rain!

Friday, March 9, 2012


I am powerless against it. Absolutely, positively, powerless. Spring temptations - chicks and plants - at every feed store you pass . I wasn't going to do it. I was going to be strong. I was going to drive right on by.

But then I figured, what the heck. You only live once! And who wants to live without heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and chicks?

 Bring on Spring!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Big John and I finally got back into construction mode this past week. He had a couple of extra days off, so we knew we'd have enough time to really get some things done. This is where the building stood when we last worked on it, with 1/4 inch OSB attached as underlayment for the 1x10 planks I'd planned to put up as wall finishings:

with holes painstakingly cut for all the doors, windows, a/c units, light switches and outlets.

Turns out that saving money on the thinner, cheaper 1/4 inch OSB didn't really pay off. It was so thin that it couldn't even cover the insulation wthout warping. There was really no other choice than to rip it all down and start over. One step forward, ten steps back.

This was not a particularly happy time on the farm - as evidenced by the look of frustration on Big John's face. Note to self: cheaper is not always better. Lesson learned!

Once we got back down to the studs, we started putting up the paneling.

Due to "budgetary constraints," the 1x10 planks changed to beadboard paneling ...

for less than half the price! Kudos to Big John for figuring out this price-saving alternative! We spent the past 3 days putting up the wall panels (including a second round of painstaking cutouts for all the doors, windows, a/c units, light switches and outlets) and much thicker OSB ceiling underlayment - with cutouts for all the pot lights. Cutouts are a big pain.

Both the kitchen and studio are fully paneled, except where the electricity and gas lines need to be run. We're only about 3 sheets away from finished. This week, I'd like to start getting some paint on the paneling. I'm planning on an antiqued paint technique - something like this:

with a dark banwood trim and barn red or turquoise (or both!) accents. There is a lot of work ahead, and with spring planting time upon us, I really need to get a move on. It will be much easier to make those pickles in my new commercial kitchen. The clock is ticking!