Chicken Care 101- Spring Cleaning

Here at Gillis Gardens, we are big believers in preventative measures for maintaining good flock health. Part of that is a bi-annual coop cleaning.

As I have mentioned before in my Winterize Your Chickens Blog, we use the deep litter method to help keep our girls home warm in the coldest of Northern Maine winter. This means, come spring, the coop has about 10 inches of compacted, broken down, composted litter that needs to be removed, and replaced with nice new clean  pine shavings.

I used a shovel, a pitch fork and a wheelbarrow.

I had about 5 loads of great “brown” compost for our pile, and made the chickens very happy, I’m sure.

Izzy helped by giving them rocks.

Well, that concludes that. I know, its a short one, but trust me, it’s important to clean your coop. If you can smell something, your flock is breathing that in all night while they sleep. Preventative maintenance is worth every moment.

Otherwise, on the homestead, we are building a few things, so I’m going to call it on this one and move on to the next.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

Weekend Warriors – Last week of Feb 2017

So last we left off, Things were getting real…

We were tasked with digging out two more spots, so we could place jacks, and removing the entire bathroom floor. In 4 days. That we technically only had our lunch breaks and evenings to work.

Okay.

So the first day, MrGillis did some digging on his own- But largely, we would come home on our lunch breaks, eat a quick sandwich, run into the shed and dig for the rest of the hour. Then the evenings of thursday and friday, after izzy had gone to bed, we’d grab the monitor, head out the shed and demo the bathroom floor. This was awful, in so many varied ways, I find it best to just do a photo montage.

Yeah, I’m not going to lie, the rot, the water damage, the mold, the crazy illegal and dangerous electrical we found UNDER THE FLOOR in insulation, the leak coming in from  under the shed front sill…. its all pretty horrifying in person. We, honestly, expected it to be bad, but we were pulling chunks of wood off by hand, because it was just rotted thru. We were able to just kind of pick up pieces of flooring and go. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of sawing, and taking out screws and nails, but we really just manhandled most of it out and into the loader bucket.

Friday night, we fell into bed, exhausted, but excited about the following day

Saturday arrives and mrgillis heads out the shed to get as much as he can get done… and we find out we’re waiting until sunday for our handy guy- you know, life comes up.

Ok. Well the upside is we got a lot done in a few days. And mrgillis spent the morning doing some more work on his own… including running strings and seeing that the house was about 3.5 inches uneven….. in mrgillis speak, which is slightly more technical that means that  in a ten foot span, the middle of the house drops 3.5 inches lower then the side.

So sunday dawns, and all of a sudden we have a very sick toddler on our hands.
So the entire day, mrgillis and the handyguy worked at all of this:

In words, instead of photo montage, one sill is completely rotten. Wanna see a hysterically depressing 5 second video of our handyguy ripping it out with his bare hands? Head on over to our instagram.

So they finished ripping out the bathroom floor joists, replaced the support beam, replaced the rotten outside sill, started jacking (to the point where our door doesn’t latch, we have to padlock that sucker now), and lastly, right at 5 of 5pm, scraped the line from our oil tank to our heater. It was only a pinhole, BUT that kind of thing needs immediate fixing. So they got to put in almost another hour, getting together a whole different set of tools, cutting and re-flaring the line.

Meanwhile, I hung out with izzy trying to coax her to eat stomach settlers(crackers, banana, toast, etc), and drink enough liquids to stay hydrated thru a viscous stomach bug. Which then turned around and smacked mrgillis and I straight into the ground for monday. We both could literally do nothing.

It is now wednesday and we’ve all fully recovered. Thankfully, we’ve faced worse then a flubug, but it was pretty awful. Mrgillis ended up going to the ER for IV Fluid because he was so dehydrated. Luckily I have an iron stomach and a constitution of an angry bee, because nothing seems to keep me down for very long.

Well, that brings us up to speed, I’d say. Now I’ve got laundry to fold and dishes to do before work so, hang tough kids.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

Weekend warriors -2nd half of January 2017

Goodness. Where to start?

The last we left this was a few weeks ago, with lots of mundane crap work and a couple small setbacks.

So, since then we’ve had a plumber come by and actually turn off the water to the kitchen. He took out the old sink, installed a rubber hose for me to get water for the chickens, unhooked the old water heater…. And that was just in the kitchen. Underneath, he cut the drain from the shower stall, and also unhooked and pulled out the piping from the shower head and controls.

I took the shower stall floor out myself, because I wanted to conquer that troublesome piece of plastic. And I did. Ha.

A few days passed and the hubby had time to go in and start tearing up some major floor.

Yup. That there folks- That’s rot. Lots and Lots and Lots of rot. We are pretty pfffffted at this point. We now are looking at finding some floor joists and actually getting the house jacked on the kitchen side come next month. We’ve already contacted a local handyman type to help us out. Here’s hoping he’ll take some pickled eggs and maple syrup to soften the blow of the bill.

So, our next step is to drain the water heater tank, rip up everything we can get our hands and tools under and… tear out the walls and floor to my chicken hospital at the same time, because when you discover an infection, you don’t just put a bandaid back over the top and hope for the best (that’s my hubby talking for a second… Its kinda like bumblefoot in my mind. We wouldn’t leave a chicken like this, we cant leave one of our buildings in similar condition)

So, we had to put a halt on that project for the rest of the week until time becomes more available.

But that’s ok because we had a crap ton of other work to do. I don’t know if I’ve ever really made this clear, but my hubby and I both work full time jobs on top of everything we do here, so monday thru friday we don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to just our DIY projects.

So heading into the last full week of January, I was concentrating on payroll taxes for two companies, and mrgillis was reconciling the companies quickbooks for the year. Over the week, we did a couple things to get ready for the next big push. Like, empty the water heater so we could get it out of the kitchen.

This, should have been a quick job, but of course, as mrgillis was walking by our hose holder, he somehow broke it(I was just kinda glad it wasn’t me that broke the thing we were using, this time), which sprung a leak. We had to unroll the ENTIRE length of hose, unhook it from the hose holder, rehook it back to the water heater and THEN it could drain outside instead of all over our already rotting from water damage kitchen floor.

Fast forward a few days and its saturday morning. We dropped the munchkin off at our babysitters and proceeded to get to business. Said business being to clean out the chicken room and kitchen completely, find somewhere else to stick all that stuff (Yea! More reorganizing!) We also put up some light block curtains to try and keep more heat IN because we’ve been experiencing below zero temps at night.

Finally, with everything moved out of the way, it was time to get down and dirty with our bad demolition selves.

MrGillis, initially wanted me to keep taking nails out of old trim boards. I pretty much vetoed this idea after the first board. Into the pile of trash they went.

With that decided, we went to town on that kitchen I tell you what.

And as we ripped down the walls we found several things… mostly Fun Unknown Origin Insect Activity

But none of that stopped us- nosiree. – we tore thru that kitchen and even into the what used to be the bathroom and will soon be our chicken room (YEA BABY CHICKS IN LIKE A MONTH!!!)

We started into the bathroom walls, and found more Insect Activity Of An Unknown Origin… and EVEN that didn’t stop us. I went thru a stud, because of how rotted it was, and THAT didn’t stop us. We tore up floor, down to rotted joists. We started in on the bathroom floor, and had to stop up at the toilet because, oh yeah, MORE FRIGGEN WATER DAMAGE.

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So basically, we tore out a bunch of crap, found a bunch of crap that didn’t make us very hopeful for the future of our shack…

Fast forward a few days, and mrgillis talked to the guy helping us jack the building. He wanted to get another opinion, and funnily enough Charlie has worked on this place before(his sister too, actually. It’s a small town.) After some inspection of the rot and also the sinking floor, he said that it would be some work, but it would be worth it.

So that is where we are currently at. Heading into February, with an even longer list of things to do before sap starts flowing and baby chicks start landing. We have pretty much the next 4 weeks to get our acts together… so off we go to work again…

Until next time, have a wicked good afternoon.

The Why and The How of It – Cloth Diapering

Before we even knew we were officially going to have a kid, we knew we were going to at least try cloth diapers. And then, we had Izzy and by one month old, and barely ten pounds, we had her in cloth diapers I had painstaking made myself- two ply flannel diapers, stuffed with an absorbent pad also made of layers of flannel, pinned with baby safe pins and then covered with plastic like undies that I found for cheap at the Amish store.

As she got bigger and started moving more, we invested in out very own stash of the new kind of cloth… a soft inner shell, sewn into a poly water proof fabric, with micro fiber inserts and snaps to adjust to all sorts of sizes. At just shy of 20 months old, and at 30 pounds, she still fits into these. That’s 15 months in these diapers- but our stash is 30 strong. We bought most of these in packs of 6 on amazon – later, we bought just a bunch of inserts so we could double up on the absorbancy as she wet more heavily.

But here is the real nitty gritty on the why, the how, and then the other why and how again.

  1. Disposables are expensive. –  now I know some of you people are looking at my link to a pack of 6 diapers with six inserts for 30 bucks and saying to yourselves, no cloth diapers are expensive. And you would be sorta right. Yeah, $5 for a single diaper seems like kind of a lot, but the reality is these diapers have an infinite amount of uses, WITH PROPER CARE(see #2)…. compared to a 20- 39 cent disposable that gets tossed in the trash Every. Single. Time. Your. Kid. Goes. When they are really young, that is a lot. That’s like up to 10 or more times a day. Which you guessed it, can add up to like 4 bucks a day. In. The. Trash.

Now, we don’t use cloth at night, because its crappy to have to change a whole bed in the middle of the night, and with a baby that happens often enough as it is.(UPDATE : as of feb 2017 we started putting her in cloth overnight, same as during the day, and it IS WORKING. Like not just working, but working better then her disposables were, so just wanted to clarify that)

Also we use a babysitter three days a week, so we send her over to them with disposables. And, while we were moving and didn’t have ready access to a washing machine, she was living in sposies. We are big believers in using what works. What typically works for us is using cloth the majority of the time because-

2.We have a really GOOD care routine. This is the core of the cloth/sposie debate in most peoples minds. How can you get the urine and poop really, actually out, without destroying your washing machine? Well the truth is, no single wash routine is going to work for everyone, or even most of everyone, or even two neighbors.  Truth is, you’re going to have to do a little investigative research of your own- in your own domain. Really get to know your water hardness level. Do you have high iron or calcium? They have free tests you can get online but if you want a really accurate one you’re going to have to shell out about 10 bucks. This is important because you’ll want to put additives into your wash as, no just regular laundry soap is not enough to clean even your regular laundry, but that’s another blog entirely.

Our personal care routine is as follows, but this is just an example – we wash diapers no more then every 48 hours.
I make sure all inserts are pulled out of the diapers pockets, and I also make sure that any waste has been flushed down the toilet. And to do that I use the Scrape and Swirl method of cleaning. This is not pretty, but its the gods honest truth. I literally take pooh diapers, plop the excess into the toilet and then use an old metal spatula to scrap the rest of the ickiness into the toilet as I gently swirl it around in the water (and yes this is to avoid splashback)
(And, Yes, I know. The things we’ll do to save money. )
To wash we put a heaping 1/2 cup of Borax, heaping 1/2 cup of Washing Soda and line 2 on our detergent (Wisk) into the bottom of our washing drum. Then go in all the diapers and inserts. I wash on a normal, heavy soil cycle, with a 30 minute soak time, followed by an extra rinse and spin. My machine is a top loading, HE General Electric with an actual agitator in the bin. I know.. I love my washer. It is the most magnificent washer ever AND we got it on clearance, on a labor day sale. Original price was over $800 and we got it for half that.

When the diapers are done washing, I dry the inserts in my dryer and I hang the diapers to dry “hot dog style” like so:

3. So the other why we use cloth – yes, we are concerned about the environment. You can’t really want a sustainable farm and not be a bit worried about throwing thousands (average of 7 dirties a day, multiplied by 7 days a week, multiplied by 52 weeks a year, times about 2 years equals roughly 5000 diapers in the trash at .30/diaper that is $1500… in the trash, and that is all low ball estimation most parents will tell you kids go thru like 10 diapers a day) of dirty diapers in the trash, to go to a landfill, to sit for goodness knows how long because disposable diapers are relatively new, and we DON’T know all the possible long term consequences for our one planet earth. We feel better knowing that by saving money, we are also helping to keep some trash out of our ecosystem.

Every earth day, my school would send all of us to go clean up trash at some local park or such and every year, I remember vividly how many dirty diapers we picked up. Literal BAGS of dirty diapers. Ick. This convinced me, even as a young and out of touch teenager, that having a kid, just didn’t need to be so wasteful.

4. Ok, so seriously, cloth diapers are so stinkin’ CUTE. And the kids, when they wear them, their little butts are so adorably fluffy. I have literally, dozens of pictures of her in her cloth diapers because they just make me feel so giddy sometimes. I never claimed to be a normal, mature adult here tho. And I also just happen to get giddy over the thought of saving money. I really am that cheap.

5. In my personal experience, cloth diapers fit better and lead to fewer blowouts with the poopie ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of urine leaks if you don’t change your kid often enough, but that would happen in any diaper, really. And does- at 20 months old and in 3t clothing, izzy was regularly leaking out the side of her disposable at night. We have since started using overnight pull ups. Ugh- so pricey. But not having to change the sheets and an angry child at 2:54am is worth almost anything.

So that’s about that. We really stand by our decision to put Izzy in cloth, for the majority of the time and should we ever have another kid, they’ll be going in cloth too. And after we’re all done, we’ll be donating them, so they can help another family save some serious cash as well. Because oh yeah,

6. The cloth diapering community is very helpful, and very large. Whether you have questions about laundry soap or finding second hand diapers, there’s a whole big cyber neighborhood of people that feel the same way I do and are willing to impart their experiences to newbies, or anyone even just interested in learning a little bit about cloth. I have spent time detailing everything to an amazed best friend, just because she asked questions.

Here are a couple more good cloth diapering resources to check out:

Fluff Love University -This website is ridiculous good. Like there is nothing, cleaning wise, that I could ever try to explain, better then they already have or could. They also have a facebook page, and its well worth a check. I’m pretty sure its a closed group and you have to ask to join tho.

Thinking About Cloth Diapers-This one is also very well done, but is less science, more feels. There are some great tutorials about how to fix diapers when things like elastics or snaps break, which has only happened to me once. It was a back elastic on the pocket and it slipped its original stitch. It was a little difficult to get the elastic back in, but easy enough to sew it back together. There really is much more as well, you just have to go look tho.

The Rebecca Foundation is where we’ll be sending ours when we’re done. They are a really wonderful program, started by a nine year old with her mothers help, to end diaper need.

And that’s about that, I’d say. Until the next time, have a wicked good evening.

DIY Warriors – 2nd Week of 2017

It’s barely into the New Year and we already have a list of projects a mile long. We have a kitchen to rip out, completely renovate ceiling to floor, and then put back in with new appliances. That is so we have a place to boil down our saps to make syrups this coming spring.

This is turning into a way bigger project then we originally anticipated. When we first talked about getting this done as our next big deal, we figured we had to take out the old appliances, take up ONE floor, tear down the walls and ceiling, replace those with new walls and ceilings, then put in the new floor and appliances.

To even get started, we had a whole lot of cleaning up to do. We moved the fridge, took out all the boards, removed every single nail and screw from said boards, so they could be stacked neatly on some improvised shelves… This in itself was a couple hours of work. Loud, repetitive, blah-type work. But with some tunes playing and a switch off of work detail, we made it thru.

MrGillis also insulated and covered the last window we plan on boarding up.

Then, we brought the fridge over, plugged her in and made plans to start using it for extra food storage the next day….

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Just Kidding! About 15 minutes after we plugged her in, and she hummed to life, I started smelling a bad, metal frying odor… from, you guessed it! The fridge is dead. I spent all kinds of time cleaning this thing, for really nothing. Apparently, after MrGillis got rid of it, he detected the cause of the engine malfunction… a mouse had set up house. To bad for them, to bad for us. We were looking forward to a second fridge for eggs and such this summer. I’ve learned a good lesson about putting off icky cleaning projects in the shed tho. Which brings me to my next big deal.

While the hubby worked on his window project, I took to time to get into our chicken room and clean it up and get it organized. I’m sad to say that in the hustle and bustle of moving, especially with having an injured Hen at the same time, it got pretty bad in there for a few weeks. Like, I hesitate to post these pictures, because straight up ashamed. But no chickens were in here while it was like this, so no fowl were fouled, and for the sake of being real with you folks, here it is.

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Yep, in all its glory, my mess of a chicken hospital/storage area.

I quickly untrashed the room, reorganized the whole kit and caboodle and was able to fit everything that was already in there, plus their food, treats and shavings. Even with the toilet and old shower stall floor still in the way. My next project was to pull the old shower floor up, but low and behold, that sucker would not budge… The shower drain is attached under the floor and needs to be capped off in the dug out basement in order for the stall floor to be removed.

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Curse you, ugly stupid thing.

 

So we are at a standstill on the particular project, along with the eventual removal of the toilet. We have bigger fish to fry.

I spent a little time switching to keeping our chicken food in bags, to keeping it in big containers. I got this 3 pack from target on sale and it was so totally worth it. They’re huge… like holds a whole bag and a half of feed at once, huge. And they are pretty solid too. I wouldn’t stack them up on top of each other with all the weight of the feed and grains tho. That seems like a recipe for dusty disaster.

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With us getting to a point of some time left in the day, but projects quickly hitting walls and such, we decided to bring our two freezers over to the new place from our old home. We had a nice, cold, zero degree day, and knew we could pretty much throw everything onto the back of the truck in bags, load up our two mini freezers, and get everything back in without any of it thawing. This project was a couple hours tops, and now all our food storage is on our slice of earth. This makes life much easier, and me much happier.

That was the end of our day for then tho, because life is life and we had other work type stuff to do…. Like eat peanut butter pie.

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So, a few days later, we got back to work in the kitchen. We decided it was really time to hammer down and get the kitchen ripped out. The hubby went to town starting to get the first wall down… He got all the window trim boards off, and went to go take the floor trim off when he realized, the trim boards were behind the floor. So, he gets to work, takes up the vinyl flooring (with my helpful self as well) and when we get that taken up, he gets his screw gun and saw so we can take up the sub floor. VhoopVhoopVhhhhhoooop and all kinds of screws are going everywhere. It seems like we might actually get this floor up, at least to the sink, soonish.

Well, as always, this old shed has thrown us for a loop. Its not one floor. Its not two floors. ITS THREE FRIGGEN LAYERS OF FLOOR WE HAVE TO TEAR UP. It appears, that in the life of this kitchen, when it was being used as a home, that there was at some point, some pretty major water damage to the kitchen floor. Well, from what we can tell, the quick fix for this particular problem was to lay down a new sub floor. And then do it again when the damage got worse. Then they laid down tile.

So, in order to take down the walls, which are built down to the original floor, obviously, we have to rip up all the floors, then rip down the walls and then we can take out the ceiling.

Thankfully, we’re not really afraid of work. But holy old moly. We now have a plumber coming in the disconnect all the water in the kitchen so we can just tear it all out and get it done. He also will be putting in a small spigot for me to get water out of so i can keep our chickens and indoor plants happy. And if he has time, he might be taking care of that shower drain for me too, but I’m just really happy to be getting the kitchen completely torn the heck out.

So that’s about that for right now. We have been doing lots of other stuff, like eating a delicious peanut butter pie(sorry, I really can’t help it, it is really good), and we’re getting ready to make some lotion this weekend, because we’ve had some people place some orders thru my mum. We joined Instagram and I have to say, I love playing with the filters. They make the chickens feathers so vivid.

I’ll have more to post soon, promise, I’ve even got about 10 drafts going.

Until that time tho, have a wicked good night.

 

Setting up the Homestead Part 4

(I would suggest perusing parts 1, 2, 3 before getting to involved in part 4)

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We drove up to a much cleaner looking front of the shed – over the week MrGillis had been able to haul away the wood, plastic sheeting and such. We’re keeping all the windows we’ve taken out to make cold frames before snow hits. Our hope is that we’ll be able to start patches of leafy greens and cold tolerant veggies like peas super early next year.

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My extremely handy husband, had our tank drained, put some Arotec fuel awesome stuff in( Its a water dispersal liquid that helps to protect your fuel from freezing) and had a delivery made. This Saturday morning, our first big deal was to get the furnace bled and started. Which my super handy husband did with the help of his phone.

After a few false starts, he got it going, and we blasted the heat up. We had a few hours yet tho before we could call it warm enough to lay out any glue for flooring.

So on the the next project.

Painting. Putting up shelves. Painting trim boards. Thwacking nails out of old trim boards to be reused. Taking out more windows. Laying trim board back down. Sweeping. More painting.

The list really goes on. We took a quick lunch break with one real intention when we got back. Laying floor in the future plant nursery.

Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I volunteered to apply the glue to the cleaned floor.
This is an awful, disgusting, sticky, stupid job. and I’m going to have to help do this at least 1,2,3,4,5,6 OH MY GOD 6 MORE FRIGGEN TIMES….

…. at least they wont all be at once. I guess. Also, the one jug we got, probably because I’m a novice glue applicator, didn’t cover the entire floor. MrGillis ran over to the local hardware store and bought the only type they had in stock.

We didn’t get any picture of unrolling the sheet, because it was really hard and awkward even with the two of us hefting it around. But we did it, and we cut the edges. Next we laid a bunch of scrap chipboard over the top to weight it down for a few days.

Last big job of the day- Sealing up the last few windows we had taken out.

At this point, I used up the last of the paint that I had poured into my tray earlier and took pictures while MrGillis really tightened up the seals on the old window spaces. in

Over the last few days, whenever he’s had spare time, he’s gone down to the stead and cleared some more of the trees that we need out of the way. We have to get more ground leveled out, and that hasn’t worked out the way we’ve wanted this past week.

Today – we go on our every other week shopping trip outta town and plan on buying the materials we need to do some more extensive work in the old homeshed. Including a very exciting trip to the AMISH!

Seriously, I love shopping at the Pioneer Place in Smyrna… We never walk out of there without some serious deal and some serious food.

Hopefully we can get a lot of that work done this next few days…. . There is an ever growing list of Honey Do Items for both of us- so on to it!

Oh, and have a wicked good day.

 

Setting up the Homestead Part 2

This last weekend, Mr. Gillis’ mother was able to watch Izzy all day Saturday and Sunday. This was a perfect opportunity to get ourselves some flooring and get some work done down on the homestead.

We dropped Izzy off around 9 am on Saturday morning and proceeded to drive the 40 odd miles to Houlton, the nearest place we have access to box stores like Tractor Supply Club, Walmart, Grocery Stores and MARDENS, the true destination of our trip.

We really wasted no time in going to this mecca of must haves -their slogan is literally “should have bought it when i saw it at Mardens”. I dare you to start that sentence in front of your native Mainer and not have them sing the rest to you.

Suffice to say, our trip was a success, and we indeed bought it when we saw it at Mardens. We found a 17’x12′ piece of vinyl sheet flooring for $141 and the glue for $25. Tax and all, we are officially able to put floors down in two rooms for about $175.

We also bought a gallon of special killz, and a gallon of noname bright white interior paint. These two gallons bring our gallon total to 7.

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Our Mega Giant 5 Gallon Bucket of Paint

We rushed home to get to work, but still had to be impressed with the fall colors coming out on the ride. We really are lucky to live in such a beautiful state.

We pulled into the driveway, unloaded our wonderful find and got to work.

Mr. Gillis got to work on finishing the electrical problem he was having with the old wiring in the future plant nursery- its important we have reliable and safe power in this room.

I grabbed the killz and started going at all the water damage I could find in the storage room I had been working on. When I took up the floor we found a fair amount of old water damage from when a washer had been running improperly. Once the Killz was on, I threw on the last coat of bright white to the entire room.

At this point, Mr GIllis had gotten his wiring done, but had in the process, ruined my paint job on one wall. He apologized and I sucked it up pretty fast. I guess. Even tho I obviously felt the need to post a picture of the devastation.

We agreed to break for supper and come back after. After scarfing down some nachos at our current home- they were homemade and delicious with turkey meat and lots of veggies – we rushed back to the homestead and got back to work.

Mr. Gillis went back to working on getting walls up in the plant nursery and I decided it was time to salvage what I could from the kitchen.

After a grueling hour and a good portion of a container of clorox wipes, I saved the fridge. Then I ripped out the cupboards and as much or the counters as I could without destroying our only sink area. We took stock of what I had torn out and decided to leave the rest for another day and call it a night.

The next morning, we got up and got to work around 8 am. We assessed the situation in the kitchen and made a couple decisions. 1. The stove top needs to be hooked up to some propane and tested before we decide to keep it or not. 2. the sink needs to stay as it is for now so we have a place to rinse our paint brushes. 3. Their is a lot of water damage in the ceiling and that and the walls needs to be torn out and replaced and 4. the water heater is most likely the cause of this water damage and needs to be junked.

Mr. Gillis went back to work on getting walls up in the plant nursery and I started tearing out the bathroom. First I tackled all the shelves and the cabinet. Then I took out the shower, revealing a window. With a little talking amongst ourselves, we decided to uncover this window all the way and leave the bottom of the shower stall in case we needed to give a chicken an emergency bath. As we look over the walls and ceiling we see that these too need to be torn out and replaced.

So now the kitchen and bathroom are both at an impasse.

I convince mrgillis that in order for me to do anything else we need to cut the flooring.

We got both pieces cut for the 8’x10′ rooms we’ve been working on. I go to sweep up the floor as good as I possibly can and I look to mrgillis and say, hey mrgillis, I think we should remove this big black plug that will never get used and will ruin our perfect floor.

so he turns off the power. and the power is not turning off.

needless to say, this giant black plug is a giant road block in our plans to do any flooring.

So, we reassess again. I decide that the only thing left for me to do is move EVERYTHING from the front room and start painting the ceiling, because well, we don’t want to tear out more walls until the plant nursery is done.

I’d like to take a moment of silence for the pine boards we had to cover. We really didn’t want to, but we couldn’t afford to restore them- and we need this place to be easy to clean and maintain.

With my painting and mrgillis’ hard work in the future plant nursery, we are getting step by step closer to turning this place into a useful work space for us come this winter.

We definitely ran out of time, before we ran out of work – so that’s the standing plan for this coming weekend if we can swing it.

Until next time, have a wicked good day.

 

Setting Up The Homestead – Part 1

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we are currently working on our biggest project to date – moving on to an old homestead and turning it into a productive farm again. Our first major step is renovating the old home into a shed for us to use for a multitude of things – we need a place to make maple syrup, a place to raise our baby chicks, a plant nursery to start up with each spring and LOTS of storage for holiday stuff, canning jars and baby clothes, among all else.

This place is PERFECT. It has a few different rooms, a hot water heater, and plumbing so we can do all these things and possibly more- but it has been pretty neglected and abused over the years. We have A LOT of work ahead of us to save this place and make it a not only useful, but integral part of our dream.

This is actually the second time we’ve gone…. I didn’t take any pictures the first time we went in and cleaned up. It was just kind of overwhelming to go into. The place reeked of musty air and cigarette smoke. It also was a mess from the previous family that had left suddenly due to their circumstances.

But after going in for a few hours and really surveying the damage, we feel pretty confidant that we can definitely do something with this.

We have so many things we need to get done in this house before we can do much of anything else. Moving onto a homestead is quickly becoming as intircate as a spider web.

This room will be our storage room for all things holidays, old baby stuff, etc. I had to tear shelving down and paint the whole thing, ceiling to floor.

The room Mr gills is renovating for our plant nursery! He tore down all the old walls, boarded up the windows, insulated the outside walls and started putting up new walls. We have a friend coming in to help rewire one of the old outlets, to be safe.

The kitchen which needs to be completely torn out and redone- to be our sugar shack for maple syrup season-  and the front long room which will be for garden equipment and chicken food and storage and our wood stove

Goodbye to the first floor we’re taking up!

This is just a small portion of the work we got done last weekend. As of yesterday they broke ground on where we’ll be setting our brand new home. And today we are going in to finish our storage room and start tearing out the kitchen.

Also, I have about 6 other blogs I’m currently working on. But as of this moment, I am going to go work on my first cuppa this morning and enjoy the steamy joe as it burns the dickens out of my throat.

Until next time, have a wicked good day!

SELL ALL THE THINGS!

I hate clutter. I hate holding on the things, broken or unused, gathering dust on some shelf that I can’t reach without a step stool. I hate having to move these stupid clutterie things, to get to other things like Christmas decorations, or put away old baby stuff(which, is technically, more clutter). I REALLY, REALLY hate having to clean around clutter. So it all gets shoved into our sugar shack, or attic. And that’s still clutter. 

So when we found out that there was a community wide yard sale being planned, we talked it over and decided that this would be the perfect oppurtunity for us to get rid of some of our junk wonderful stuff. Also, a perfect oppurtunity for a blog post. 

Two birds, one stone, all that jazz. 

  1. Go thru your house one room at a time- this allows you to really focus your attention on what is nessacity and what is just weighing you down. This can be literally or figuratively I suppose. We are moving into a MUCH smaller place soon and we need to seriously pare it down.. See number three for more about that. 
  2. Price things as you find them- this was the hardest one for me, but it really is a time saver. There is no way I could get all this crap wonderful stuff ready to sell in one day. It’s just not possible. 
  3. Use this as an oppurtunity to purge- really take a minute to go thru your things and decide, am I keeping this because I use it or because I’m scared of letting go of a memory, or a feeling it evokes.  I have two dressers and a large closet chock full of clothes. This is after a recent purge over winter where I donated 2 garbage bags of clothes and one of shoes. And I’m talking the 32 gallon bags. My husband has boxes of old video gaming equipment and games. We both have a lot of extra stuff, and for very different reasons. 
  4. Be ready to go back thru multiple times- because of above, I went thru my clothes about 5 times. Every time I took out more to sell and felt better. AND I STILL HAVE A CLOSET FULL OF CLOTHES. 
  5. Know your bottom line- why are you having a yard sale? To make money? To get rid of the extra junk? I know it seems easy, but really selling stuff can be emotionally taxing. Especially if you are sentimental. Your value from memories is not the value other people see in it.
  6. Price accordingly- do not let sentimentality get involved. Price to sell this time, so you don’t have to put yourself thru it all over again.
  7. Do not let stuff back in the house. Once you have decided to get rid of it, stick to your guns and get rid of it. 

look at all these NES games! this is a collection over 20 years in the making

our mudroom, chock full of stuff to sell

more of all the stuff to sell

my hubby, sacrificing his weekend to test his vintage systems and games

Well, after talking about all this work, I have to go back to doing all this work. Here’s hoping for a successful sale this coming weekend. And hopefully, I helped you wade thru the muck and mire of your Yardsale. 

I’m very excited about the next blog post. It’s a first for me, but I’ll be posting a special chicken blog. So until that time, have a wicked good day! 

      Blueberry leaves are like glitter

      We are done winnowing the berries. It took about a hour per box, and my wonderful hubby had to set up our winnower on our back porch so he could work thru a rainstorm, but it’s done.

      Mr. Gillis taking care of blueberries in the rain.

      Mr. Gillis taking care of blueberries in the rain.

      The upside, we can move on to the next phase in cleaning them. The downside, I will be finding blueberry leaves everywhere for days. Possibly weeks.

      Yup- found this little sucker in my living room.

      Yup- found this little sucker in my living room.

      The glitter of the berry world. But it is a small, tiny annoyance to live with in order to take part in what is The Downeast’s second most valuable commodity.

      So, next is the deep clean. This will get rid of the green berries, random stems and other icky-ness. For this you’ll need a flat surface, a towel that’s a little on the rough side, a bowl to catch the clean berries and a box about 8 inches high. For a flat surface, we used our trusty window screen.

      It is a pretty simple set up. The box goes on one end, the bowl on the other. The flat surface goes on top. The angle that’s created helps move the good berries along to the bowl.

      Before the towel goes on

      Before the towel goes on

      Now, throw that towel on top, and roll up the edges as the picture below shows. The sides being rolled will guide your berries right where they need to go.

      The towel should be on the rougher side. All the better to catch the stems.

      The towel should be on the rougher side. All the better to catch the stems.

      Guess what time it is! We transferred our berries from the big box to much smaller bowl. Now just dump some berries on the towel and go to town. It’s best to do this in small batches, like winnowing.

      Mr. Gillis pouring berries onto the towel

      Mr. Gillis pouring berries onto the towel

      If you used a window screen like we did, tap the underside gently and the berries will start sorting themselves as they roll down. You’ll still have to pick the bad ones out, but they’re a lot easier to see, and your hands stay cleaner.

      The towel catches the majority of grossness.

      The towel catches the majority of grossness.

      It’s a process, for sure, but well worth it when you end up with this-

      After the second cleaning and washing.

      After the second cleaning and washing.

      Well, since that’s done, it is officially time to figure out what to do with your berries. Our berries will be frozen, jammed, sauced and possibly relished. But more on that next time.

      No, seriously. We’re making several batches of blueberry jam tonight. That, and how I freeze berries for long term storage, will be the topic of the next blog.

      So until that time, have a wicked good evening.