Sunday, February 9, 2014


As I briefly mentioned in my last post, we've decided to try fostering a dog. Jeremy has been wanting to get one for awhile, to have on car trips to the farm, at the farm, at home with him during the day, etc. Basically, we're buying him a friend. 

But hold on! You can't just get any old dog! You can't take it back to the store after 3 days if it doesn't work out for you - this is a lifetime commitment! (Well, I know some people get rid of animals like that. Grr.)

One way to get around that is to foster. It's a much shorter time commitment and it gives you a chance to save a dog's life and figure out if having this creature is such a good idea. We discovered Safe Hands Rescue, which is based right in our neighborhood. And last night we picked up our foster, Noel.  That's how they spelled it, though perhaps it should have been spelled Noelle, or however you spell the girl version.  Anyway, it's hard to get a good picture of her because she's a bit full of energy! (Actually, right now she's conked out on the bed behind me, holding as still as ever.) 

Here she is, Miss Wiggleworm:

Kind of holding still.

You really get a better idea with a video:

Here's her walk this morning.  She LOVES diving into snow. She's also quite adept at walking and jumping a bit on her hind legs. She's like a meerkat. =) 

Nap time!

We're not quite sure what kind of dog she is - a mutt of some sort. She's about 1 year old and 29 pounds. She's a bit underweight so we're going to feed her up.  She is quite a clown when she plays with her toy. She loves to be with her people and snuggle. She doesn't seem to be trained to sit or lie down or things like that. But she's been pretty good about letting us know when she needs to go out (uh, though we're still learning how to identify that!).  

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Today's project: demolition

As some of you know, getting rid of the chicken coop annex has been on the to-do list since last fall. The chickens haven't been using it and it turned out to be a bit of pain for us to use too.  We like it better having one coop for all the chickens.
It was interesting to see how the chicken society developed with two coops. Who ended up in which coop? Was there a "cool" group in one or the "outcasts" in one?  And then when it got cold more chickens moving to the coop with the heat lamp versus the sweater heater. Interesting.

Anyway, here's the annex, in all its glory. We always meant to paint it and put on an actual roof, which of course we never did get around to. Today, being an absolutely balmy 15 degrees (warm enough to snow!) we decided to tackle the demolition.

Here's a view from inside the run. Jeremy is shoveling the snow off the roof before we get started. There used to be roofing paper on the roof parts, but time, weather, and various birds pretty much destroyed it.

Starting to see the original brooder now. This whole annex was built from our brooder, which we built for our first batch of chicks in 2009. Jeremy built the walls up, added some shims, put in some rigid insulation, sheathing on the outside, voila! Chicken coop! Here though, all the exterior sheathing and insulation has been removed.

Here's the outside now. Next to go is the roof...

Timmmmbeeerrrrrr! =)

After the roof was off it was a simple matter of 1...


3... done!

I cleaned up the scraps while Jeremy moved that brooder box back into the house, and it was as if there had never been an annex out there! Well... I guess you might wonder why there is a door sticking off the side of the coop.

Obviously we need to do something about that gaping hole before we can let the chickens out. Luckily (??) we're supposed to be down to -20 the next couple days so we won't be letting the chickens out anyway.  Hopefully that's enough time to paint some wood to make the new fence we've been planning. Jeremy's plan is to move that gate over to the far right and then make a small covered area where the door is now.  That will help keep some area of the run right outside their door dry and snow free. Pics when we get to that...eventually.

Now we're just thawing out inside and biding our time.  We've decided to foster a dog - see if having a dog works for us - and our foster dog will be ready for pick-up tonight at 9:30.  Yikes!  Hopefully this won't become a dog blog. =)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ticker tape owl

I have a sewing blog for this type of thing now, but I'm lazy, so I'm posting here instead.

An online sewing friend recently said something about making a "ticker tape quilt." I had no idea what she was talking about.  There was a picture and a link so I followed and went down that rabbit hole. Wow!  There are some really cool ticker tape quilts out there! And what a great way to use up the loads of scraps I have. I wrote down some instructions and stashed them away, another item on my long "things I want to do someday" list.

And then a couple days later I had some free time and didn't feel like spending it cleaning/organizing the basement or the garage, so I clipped out some scraps and made this:

It's not sewed down yet, so hopefully it will look as good when done.  It seems the common way to do ticker tape is to use a straight stitch and sew in 1/4 inch from the edge on each scrap. Then as the quilt is used and washed the fabric edges fray a bit making the quilt sort of soft and comfy. So they say. I'm not really into that frayed edge look. Another way is to zigzag stitch around each scrap. That's what I'm planning to do. Luckily this is about 24 inches square.  All the same, now that I've got the layout done, I'm going to find something else to do and avoid this for awhile! =)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wham Bam Walk-in Cooler!

Oh how I wish I had some better "before" pictures of this project!  The best I can offer is the second picture from this post. That would be the garage in all its disastrous glory. Stuff piled everywhere! It only got worse when Jeremy brought in the huge stack of walls and things for the walk-in cooler - and then we brought in all the foam insulation from the basement.

We made some plans because all that stuff in the back corner had to go somewhere: the giant tub of hay for the chickens, the aforementioned claw foot tub, a bathroom sink, our chest freezer, loads of storm windows, piles of wood, shelves, hoses, etc, etc.  Some things moved down to the basement, some things went up in the rafters, some things were piled up for a run to the dump, and by last Wednesday, the corner was amazingly cleared out. A little sweeping and it was as clean as the day we bought the house.

The cleanest this corner of the basement has been in years!

From that back corner, surveying the rest of the garage, you can see piles of wood and some windows on the far right, then the tub of hay (hiding the tub and two sinks behind it), then the stack that will be the walk in cooler, covered by some of the foam insulation.

On Friday Jeremy got to work. I don't know if I can describe how this thing goes together. He had to attach 2x2 strips to the floor and then the walls fit onto those strips, and slotted into each other. He started in the back and worked his way around...

Wham bam! Instant walk in cooler!  Okay, it wasn't really instant, but the first picture was taken at 3:20 and the last one at 4:30! I don't think the ceiling is on in the last picture and that took a little bit more time.  Sunday Jeremy finished the electrical so there is an outlet inside the cooler and a light. The next step is to build in a floor, just like the one in the basement set-up. A bunch of insulation laid down on the floor with some wood over the top. And then we'll move up a couple of shelves from the basement and it will be ready to receive mushroom spawn and later, mushrooms!

Oh, I should say there is nothing to cool it at the moment (except Minnesota's crazy cold winter), but later Jeremy will add a modified air conditioner to keep it chilly inside.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Basement: organized. (sort of)

The basement has come along nicely since I last talked about it ..... uhh... a week ago. =)  We got all the insulation out and everything cleaned up. In the process of taking things apart we decided not to take the walls out completely. We left about three or four studs out on each end and took out the corner part (which I know doesn't make a lot of sense for you visual folks).  We left a bit of wall on the north side.  We decided to build a much smaller root cellar with that as one of the walls. I'm not sure when we'll get to that project, so the insulation will live there in the corner in the meantime, as well as a few 2x4s ready for making new walls.  Hopefully we'll get this set-up in the fall in time for storing onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, etc.

Over on the right you can see the bit of wall we left from the original, large root cellar / walk-in cooler. Someday that will be the right wall of a more closet-sized root cellar. And beyond is a lovely set of shelves Jeremy whipped together. 

Jeremy constructing another set of shelves. I'm back in the corner of the basement, inside the former root cellar. 

And here is the first set of shelves, all full of stuff!

Another set of shelves, on the other side of that partial wall we left, also filling up with stuff... 

And the last set of shelves.  Goodness it is glorious down in the basement now - so many wonderful shelves! 

I debated whether or not to post all these photos of our junk in the basement. But I have to say this blog is just as much for us as for all of you. I rather enjoy looking back through the years to see what we've been up to, and the various changes we've made to the house. So of course I had to post these pics.

Also, these pics were taken a week ago, and already it's gotten a bit messy.  Much of this stuff came from the front of the basement. Moving it back here allowed us to move loads of stuff in from the garage.  More about the garage project soon...

And now I'm going to make some excuses for why we have SO many boxes in the basement.  Really, I'm a bit embarrassed about it. What IS all that JUNK!?  When I was single in Seattle I had maybe 5 or 6 boxes of "stuff" stored away in the back of a closet. A few stuffed animals and toys from childhood I can't bear to get rid of, journals, papers from school (all ages) - that sort of thing that many of us have, can't bear to throw away, and also don't really want to display in our adult homes. Jeremy has stuff like that too, though I think he has literally every homework assignment he ever completed in every grade, including college and grad school. Then there are probably 15-20 boxes of kitchen stuff that just doesn't fit in our kitchen. Seriously - we need a remodel that makes our ENTIRE house a kitchen, with a tiny little bathroom and bedroom and sewing room tucked away somewhere. We spend all our time in the kitchen anyway. And then there are loads of random tools and construction things, boxes with fixtures, plug-in things, electrical wire, etc.  And then, the kicker, there are dozens and dozens of empty boxes for mushrooms. Yep. Piles of empty boxes.

Okay, now I feel a little bit better about myself, and our packed out basement!