Living Tiny & The First Fire (ooohhhh, aaaahhhh)

So I’ve been doing this “tinyhouse” thing for awhile now. I feel like I’m educated enough at this point to have some viable input on what it’s like to live in a tinyouse. So here is my take thus far.

First, it’s small. If you don’t like small spaces you’re better off somewhere else. Try living in one room of your house for two months and you will soon see. Every time I turn around the dog is in the way. I’m constantly moving object A,B,C,D to get to object E, then realize I need object A but, objects B,C and D have now just been put in front of it. It’s like a Circus of discord. But… you do get used to it. I’ve learned over these past few months how to deal with these frustrations.

Second, lofts suck. Up, down, up, down. Rusty, my dog, needs to be carried up at night and carried down in the morning. He’s fat (well husky at least). Myles was a one hand lift. Rusty needs to be “fireman” carried up and down from the loft. My upper arms are getting a workout and so are my legs. And here’s a kicker- middle of the night bathroom breaks! Do you understand how frustrating it is getting out of the cozy bed in the brisk midnight air and have to climb down from the loft so you can piss? Even worse, Rusty needs to piss too! It didn’t take me long doing this routine until I had the bright idea of getting a urinal. Problem solved. Except for Rusty.

Third, it can get b-o-a-r-I-n-g. Living in such a tiny space FORCES you to get out and do “something.” I’d like to tell you how outdoorsy I’ve become but, alas. Don’t get me wrong I do fish, ride the 4-wheeler, garden and hike. Just not as much as I should. Mostly because of the weather being too hot or too cold. I have a television in the tinyhouse but there is no cable or antenna yet so it’s a useless “wall ornament.” I get a weak internet signal in the loft where I can twitter or watch Netflix but, in the summer the loft is scorching during the day even with the windows open and the fans going. I need air conditioning! So most of the time I spend my days in the big house with Ma and Pa where the internet is strong, the television gets channels and the air is cooled.

Fourth, daily chores. Small spaces get dirty QUICK. Everyday I vacuum the loft and sweep the main floor. Next I have to empty the urinal and composting toilet “liquids” bottle. This is a nasty job and quite stinky too. If you don’t do it everyday the whole damn house will smell like piss. Then I do any dishes and empty the catch bucket under the sink. A light dusting. Then back up to the loft to make the bed. Normally this isn’t such a chore, but when your celling is only 4ft. high it’s a nightmare on your back and knees. It’s not much but, having to do these things daily gets to be a pain… literally.

Those are my biggest complaints. Yep, that’s it. Everything else is BEAUTIFUL. I pretty much knew about the things above before I signed up, having read blogs and spoken to so many people before going this route. I am living my dream and everyday I DO pinch myself to make sure I’m in reality. It’s quiet, peaceful and best of all… PAID FOR. Tinyhouse living allows me time to do the things in life that I choose to do. I will get a job this winter to keep busy and to build my savings back up. I won’t be constrained to my job like I was before, working only part time and doing things that I find enjoyable. I wont be worrying about creditors and debt collectors and I wont be busting my ass trying to stay afloat and ahead of the “game.”

I’ve been getting along splendidly with my parents. I’ve taken over all the yard duties for my Dad and help my Mom with house chores. It’s kind of cool actually- we’ve become quite the “tribe.” I look at other cultures and see this type of lifestyle a lot. The family unit all living together and helping each other out. I get land to live on and in return they get help keeping the place up. And it’s a big place. 32 acres of lakeshore property and a house with 4 bedrooms 3 bathrooms plus an upstairs and downstairs living area. That’s a lot of vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting. So it’s not like I sit on my ass and watch t.v. and play on the internet all day.

I lit my first fire in the woodstove this morning. Which means that yes, I did finally get the stove hooked up. Everything worked the way it should, meaning I didn’t burn the place down. I’m surprised how little wood I had to use to warm it up. A few sticks the size of my thumb and a 12″ piece about the thickness of my wrist. This lasted almost 4 hours. I’m hoping I can get away with not having to use more than a few cords of wood this winter, which would be good being as how I’ve yet to split any. That’s next weeks project along with pulling the boats and dock out for the season. I didn’t build a deck yet but, I did fashion a fancier set of stairs that will get me by until spring. I added a few shutters to “fancy” up the façade and I put in a new table and some new décor. It has an amazing felling inside, very tranquil especially at night.

After spending some time grieving the loss of Myles, I’ve decided to take in another dog. I’m traveling to the cities on Monday to pick up a three year old rat terrier named Bella who is in need of a good home. She is tan and white in color and is supposed to be a “cuddler” and gets along well with other dogs. Hopefully everything works out and I’ll be posting pics of her next week.

Rusty and I took a walk along the beach this morning and he somehow lost his collar? Todays task is to try to find it. I may cut some wood (probably not… I’m a procrastinator ya know). I’m already working on my other “get er done” for the day (this update). I think maybe I will take out the camera and snap a few shots of the changing leaves. Other than that… it’s wide open. I’m living the tiny life. And man, life is good!

DSC_1451 DSC_1460 DSC_1463 DSC_1465 DSC_1466 DSC_1467 DSC_1472 DSC_1477 DSC_1478 DSC_1479 DSC_1480 DSC_1482

Just a quick tip for you herb gardeners out there. Instead of using twine and tying a bunch of knots to bundle your herbs for drying. Tie a bunch of clothes pins on a piece of string spaced about 8 inches apart. Clip your herbs into these and hang to dry. Now you aren’t tying knots constantly and wasting your twine 🙂

DSC_1489 DSC_1484

It Feels Like A Home! 1st Night in Tiny Home

Unpacking and getting things “just right” has been a week-long process and I’m still going. Friday was the first night sleeping in the tiny home and it was wonderful! The house takes on a whole new feeling at night with the soft glow from the candles and oil lamps (yes I have real lights too, but they don’t impart the same “feel”). It was a bit stuffy and warm in the loft the other night because I don’t have a fan going yet. The space feels so cozy, not unlike the feeling I had sleeping in the tipi. I was able to purchase and install some cabinets in the kitchen and get the sink put in. I don’t have water yet because I’m still waiting for Doug to finish up the bump-out for the propane and water heater. I pick that up on Tuesday. I’m pretty much all decorated up, there are a few things in boxes that I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep or not.

Here is the current “TO DO” list:

  • Hook up propane and water
  • Order and install solar panels
  • Build custom couch for living room
  • Hook up wood stove
  • purchase and hang drapes
  • Build deck
  • Install some type of paneling around outside to hide trailer/wheels
  • Hook up television and stereo

That’s pretty much the list. Then it’s time to start splitting wood and getting ready for winter. LOL

Here are some pictures of what’s been done thus far. I hope everyone had a fun 4th and your puppies were not too shook-up from the loud booms!

DSC_1324

View from the front door

DSC_1325

Living room

DSC_1326

Living room

DSC_1327

Kitchen (check out that awesome countertop)

DSC_1328

Kitchen

DSC_1330

Bath

DSC_1331

Bath

DSC_1332

Pantry on right side

DSC_1333

closet

DSC_1334

Loft

DSC_1335

Kitchen

 

Tiny House Construction Update. Days 2-10

It’s been pretty hectic these past few weeks. Things are going amazing and surprisingly very fast. I see no reason that we can’t have this project completed and moved to the property by June 19th.

Here is a recap of the following weeks with some pictures. Pay no mind to the date & time on the photos… I didn’t have it set right LOL.

Day #2 Subfloor insulation and sheeting.

DSC_1133 DSC_1136 DSC_1141

Day #3 Framing the side walls.

DSC_1144 DSC_1148 DSC_1151 DSC_1154 DSC_1155

Day#4 Installing the rafters and framing the end wall (tongue side).

DSC_1157 DSC_1159  DSC_1167

Day#5 Framing end wall (tail end), sheeting and tar papering the roof.

DSC_1161

DSC_1168

DSC_1170DSC_1171

Day#6 Tyvek installation, electrical, roof gables, installing end window.

DSC_1185 DSC_1186 DSC_1187 DSC_1188

Day #7 Installing remaining windows and end wall sheeting (tongue side).

DSC_1189DSC_1190DSC_1194

Day #8 (Rain Day) Staining wall sheeting.

 

Day#9 Sheeting remaining walls.

DSC_1191 DSC_1193  DSC_1195

Day #10 Spraying interior with insulation.

DSC_1197 DSC_1199 DSC_1201 DSC_1203 DSC_1204 DSC_1206 DSC_1207

As you can see… we’ve been busy. I can’t wait to start on the interior.

Construction Begins!

After a one month delay waiting for the trailer arrive from the manufacturer, construction has finally started. Yesterday I went with my builder Doug Dobson, to pick up the trailer. It was the first time I’ve ever pulled anything besides a boat behind my truck and it took a bit of getting used to. The trailer actually added a bit more stability to my pickup and I suggest Ford starts adding trailers to all their vehicles. If you recall from the previous post, the tiny home was scheduled to be completed by the end of next week. I’m still optimistic that we will be able to have things caught up and I will be able to move to my new place in mid June. Everyone cross their fingers!

Last week Doug and I took a trip to town to procure most of the materials. It was fun picking out the cedar tongue and groove boards for the interior, the wood flooring, windows and my front door. So many choices, colors, textures, shapes, patterns, sizes so many different options… my head is spinning. I’m beside myself just thinking about what I’m going to do for curtains. There have been many a sleepless night laying in bed… dreaming. It’s finally here and time to get to work!

Bright and early today I took the 4-wheeler and camera over to Doug’s and he was already out and getting things set up. I was impressed at his enthusiasm on our little project. Within a matter of hours we had already completed most of the subfloor. Doug had to run to the lumber yard to get the oak boards for the loft floor, so I decided to take the opportunity to update the blog. I know, it took long enough. I finally have something worth merit to start writing about… are you excited? I am.

Tomorrow I’m driving to my parents property and will decide on the final resting place of my tiny home. Hopefully everyone can come to an agreement on it’s placement. I need a nice clear view of the sun to power my solar panels and a clearing big enough, so as not interfere with the wind that will power the wind generator. I also need to be close enough to the house to run a hose for my water supply. All this and yet not impede on my parents. It’s not going to be tucked away in the woods like I’d hoped, but rater on the side lot overlooking the lake.

If you are considering building a tiny home in the future, or live in one now please don’t hesitate to contact me. Doug is hoping that by building this tiny home for me, more opportunities for this type of construction will come his way. His information and other useful resources for those that are interested can be found here: https://returntothewild.net/tiny-home-resources.

As a side note: I’ recovering from a broken elbow at the moment and have “a gimp arm” as Doug calls it. I’m NOT in a cast and can use my arm in a limited fashion so long as I don’t bump it. Isn’t it funny how these things happen when it’s most inopportune? And to all you smart asses out there who know me… YES I’m accident prone. Enjoy the pictures 🙂

Day #1 of construction. Pulled trailer in garage so we weren’t in the sun. We began by removing every other board on the bed of the trailer to help lighten the end weight and because they aren’t needed for support. The sub floor is then built on top of the remaining boards in 3 separate sections that will be joined together once we install a layer of metal flashing (under the sub floor and on top of the existing trailer bed boards) to protect the subfloor from beneath. Next we will cut insulation to fit between the 2×4’s and finish by laying down plywood sheeting. The trailer is a 8×20 straight deck “Buggy Hauler”, custom built for tiny homes by PJ Trailers in Sumner, TX. DSC_1069 . DSC_1071 DSC_1074 DSC_1075 DSC_1076 DSC_1077 DSC_1078 DSC_1079DSC_1085

Nocking Arrows Off-Grid in the Rain

The weather Gods are playing their tricks again. I’m wondering if I should start building an ark and gathering animals… rain, rain and still more rain. I think we should build a water pipeline from the tipi to California. I made the mistake of going to town and leaving the door open during our latest 28hr. downpour. Let’s just say I’m glad I bought indoor/outdoor carpet and have plenty of towels. The front of the tipi got a little wet. I am also getting some water dripping in from the stove pipe. I need to find a way to seal the canvas around the pipe so that the water has no way to sneak in. The back of the tipi where the bed is set up, and the side of the tipi where the T.V. and battery bank is, stays completely dry… thankfully. The wind can really whip the canvas and it’s quite impressive listening to the storms raging outside. As I explained to my Dad, I don’t have to worry so much about the wind because of the conical shape of the tipi, it’s not a flat wall like a house and the wind simply goes around me. I also have a rope that is lashed around the top of the poles and can be anchored to the center of the tipi if we get any serious straight line winds.

Yesterday we finished getting the wind generator lifted into place and wired up. We wound up blowing a fuse bank when we attempted to connect to the batteries. The wiring for the generator is three phase and the instructions were sketchy on how the two systems (battery powerhub and wind generator MPPT) connected together. A simple phone call to the manufacturer got us on the right track and everything is connected properly now. Of course yesterday there was no wind, and today the wind is blowing so hard that the over-speed protection on the wind generator has shut down the blades. Tonight I’m disconnecting from the main power and will be running completely off-grid… an experiment that is sure to present some issues that will need to be problem solved. EVERYTHING is a learning experience.

Today I picked up my new Hoyt Charger compound bow from Itasca Archery Supply (http:www.itascaarchery.com). I’m telling you, the people in the Northland are about the most friendly and interesting folks you could wish to meet. Gary, the shop owner, set me up with a great bow package. I’ve never felt more comfortable about making such an “investment” in my life. I was even able to get a free archery lesson with Arne Moe, who is a level 4 USA Archery Coach. To top it all off, Gary’s son is going to connect me with some local bee keepers in the Itasca area. Northland networking at it’s finest! I have faith that I’m going to get a deer this season… cross your fingers and wish me luck, I’m hoping to brain tan some buckskin this fall.

Well, the rain has died down a little. I think I’m going to find a spot to hang my target and practice my form. Nothing like nocking arrows off-grid in the rain. Stay dry!

Everything Falling into Place.

Every day I wake up, I have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming. Life has never been this good or this exciting. I’ve never felt so “connected” to the world around me. At night I fall asleep to the croaking of frogs and the hooting of owls, I wake up to the chirping of birds and the cool blowing breeze. Life in a tipi is… amazing. I’m at a loss for words, it’s something that must be experienced to be understood.

I’ve managed to solve my mosquito problem. Nothing a bug zapper and a bit of mosquito netting can’t handle. Of course, now we have a new problem… army worms. The damn things are everywhere and they spin a line from the tops of my tipi poles and come inching down, only to be squished in my carpet. If you are not a fan of bugs, you should just stay in your comfy pre-fab house! Just sayin’. The winter will be cold yes, but at least there won’t be any damn bugs!!!

DSC_0640

The composting toilet is hooked up and running. So far I’m very happy with how it operates. There is no smell unless I forget to empty the urine bucket (which is part of my daily morning ritual now). If you want specifics on it’s operation check: http://www.natureshead.net.

DSC_0638

I also managed to hook up the kitchen sink… with running water! The stove is also hooked up properly now. I purchased a 2ft. length of double wall insulated stove pipe to go out the front of the tipi through the lacing pins. This allows me to close the smoke flaps when it’s raining heavily and during the winter months. I have to figure out a way to plug up the small holes that were created when running the pipe out this way… EVERYTHING is literally a learning experience.

DSC_0635 DSC_0636 DSC_0650 DSC_0649

After much debate on how to best hook up the wind generator, I finally broke down and ordered the tower kit. Gene and I were trying to figure out if we could save money by building a tower ourselves, but decided in the end to just go with the kit. Sometimes it’s best pay the extra cost to make sure that things aren’t going to come crashing down… it’s an investment. We got the tower up yesterday and will be installing the wind generator later today after we pick up wire in town. I’ve already been using the battery bank and inverter, pulling power through an extension cord from the house. The batteries seem to be able to keep everything running for a few days before they drain. At some point I may need to install a few solar cells to collect power on those rare windless days. I’ll know for sure how everything is going to hold up by the end of next week.

DSC_0637 DSC_0643

I’ve cleaned up twice now in the new outdoor shower. There is something freeing standing naked in a field, under a warm shower with only God looking at your naughty parts. I picked up a Triton on-demand propane water heater from the interwebs for a reasonable price. The thing works like a charm and can put out some seriously HOT water. The hook-up was simple and it only requires a garden hose, propane tank and 2 D cell batteries. When the unit senses the water flowing it immediately fires up and starts sending hot water. As long as the propane doesn’t run out, the hot water continues to flow without interruption. It also works great for cleaning my dishes… and laundry at some point (LOL).

DSC_0644 DSC_0646

The garden is about as planted as it’s going to get this year. I didn’t get everything that I wanted to plant in the ground. The grains and carrots and wheat will have to wait till next year. Apparently I’m not the only one who had a late start in the garden this year, so I don’t feel so bad. I’m hoping right now that everything comes up. I’ve got some serious clay in my garden and I’m afraid the seedlings are going to have a difficult time pushing through the soil… time will tell.

DSC_0656 DSC_0657 DSC_0658

In preparation for the heat of July, I broke down and bought a pool… live simply yes, but one still needs “toys.” I don’t have the luxury of air conditioning and I’m not a fan of swimming in mucky lakes. Gene is fixing up an old hot tub in the garage, so soon we will have that up and running too. This place is turning into a 5 star resort!

DSC_0654

Lastly this week, I pulled out 7 of my frozen rabbit hides and started to tan them… I’ll post pictures when they are finished. Again, thank you internet for providing me the information to learn all these new skills.

Well… I have lots of work to do. Hopefully life is treating you well and you are having a better time with mosquitoes and bugs than I am. Till next time!

DSC_0648 DSC_0639

Mosquitoes and Sweat… Still Think This is Fun!

On Friday May 23rd. I began living full-time in the tipi. My friend Erin came up to visit for the weekend from the cities. She was supposed to help me move everything out of the cabin and into the tipi, but I was bored and eager, so everything was already moved when she arrived. I can not describe how awesome of an experience this is! I have my bed, a sink, two stoves, a dresser, a book case, a cedar chair, a refrigerator and toilet… and there is plenty of room for all of it, plus more for storage. The guests that have come over to see inside have just stood in awe. There is something magical about living in a round home.

The tipi stays about 6-8 degrees cooler than the outside temp. I use a fan to keep the air circulating. The last two days I’ve gotten a taste of wet weather, so far everything has held up. There have been a few small drips here and there, but nothing I’d consider even close to serious or annoying. I went shopping in town and got some rugs for the floor and some paver bricks for under the stove area. I hung two strands of Christmas lights up around the interior and they provide just enough light to complete the ambiance. Hopefully the pictures can convey the “feel” of the living space. I’m waiting for Erin to e-mail me some panoramic photos she took during the visit. I’ll post them soon. Clothes pins come in handy for hanging things up along the inside liner (a tip for any tipi enthusiasts out there).

DSC_0627 DSC_0628 DSC_0630 DSC_0631 DSC_0632 DSC_0633 DSC_0634tipipanoram

The biggest problem that I have right now, is the damned mosquitoes. I’ve been bathing in bug spray and burning sage to help keep them out. Sometimes they just DGAF and bite right through the strongest bug spray I can find. I woke one morning to a swarm of the pesky buggers hovering over my bed. I’m considering buying a bug zapper and a mosquito net to go over the bed at night. Anyone from Minnesota knows what a bunch of crap “mosquito season” is. There are other bugs too, but I don’t really mind as long as they keep to themselves. I’ve had no problems with mice or other animals trying to get inside… I’m pretty sure the dogs have something to do with that. Another issue is dirt… I have to sweep everyday… I’m pretty sure the dogs have something to do with that too. Despite these few things, I still have no regrets and I’m having the adventure of my life. I couldn’t be happier! I’m slowly becoming “that guy that lives in the tipi.” I have no problem just sitting in the tipi with the dogs, watching a movie (or reading) and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Gene and I started on the outdoor shower (which will have to be used when the mosquitoes aren’t around), we ran out of boards and will pick some up on Monday to finish it. The sink is in, but I still have to run a water line. I have a Berkey water filter that I use for my drinking water. Currently with the heat, the dogs and I go through about 3 gallons of water a day. Also, I still need to hook up the wind generator. Right now I’m pulling power from the barn. Hopefully I will be “off-grid” in the next week. There are tons of little projects to accomplish… including a not so little project; splitting and stacking wood for the winter. Yes, I still have faith that I will be able to make it through the winter!

The garden is late in getting started. I planted about 14 tomato plants last week, and yesterday I planted some raspberry bushes. Next year will be much better because we won’t need to plow up sod and put up fencing; just a quick tilling. I met another neighbor yesterday and he kindly gave me 24 pepper seedlings, some onion and potato sets, and some seeds. The people are so friendly in the country!

The honeybees are doing awesome! I’m getting ready to put my second hive body on. The bees have been busy gathering pollen and building comb. I can’t believe how docile the bees are. I’m not even wearing gloves anymore! Next time I check on them, I’m going to wear just the veil and no suit. Yep, living life dangerously I am!

The baby chicks are doing well and should be big enough to join the other girls in the yard next week. I lost one of my Buff Orpingtons I’ve had for 3 years now. My friend Erin went to check for eggs and found her laying in the corner of the coop. There were no obvious signs of injury; her death is a mystery. Velvita the duck has started to venture out on her own more… doing less “chicken” things and more “duck” things. She obviously would like to spend all day near the pond, the chickens not so much.

The rabbits are doing awesome, even in this heat. The new outdoor cages are on the shade side of the barn and are working better than I could have hoped. No more emptying litter pans!!! I have a gravity fed watering system which saves TONS of time not having to constantly fill up smaller water bottles. The first litter of 8 kits is 5 weeks old and another doe just kindled another 8 kits on Wednesday. I remember watching the movie “Roger and Me” by Michal Moore with my Mother when I was younger. There is a scene with this lady that sells and butchers rabbits and has a sign in her yard that says: “rabbits for sale. pets or meat.” I hope she doesn’t mind me stealing her sign idea 🙂 Hopefully I can make a few bucks selling them.

The work is hard and sweaty and never ends. It seems like once I finish one project, five more take it’s place. On the nice days… I love it! On the crappy days… I still love it, but I complain a lot 🙂 The dogs are slowly adjusting to the changes too. Sometimes they forget that “go inside” means go into the tipi and not the cabin. Myles keeps sneaking out when I leave and going over to the neighbors (bad dog), obviously some training is in order. He will get it eventually. Rusty developed another ear infection and both dogs are getting bit by flies. The vet gave me some fly repellent cream to test out, so far it seems to be working. Myles is an indoor dog and I wonder if this transition is stressful to him. Rusty loves being outside and seems to not care at all. Gene has been amazing in helping me with all this. He’s very clever and has had a few great ideas. He always has input and makes me think about things.

Surprisingly I’ve been off the computer for well over a week now. Let me tell ya… I don’t miss “not knowing” all the “extra stuff” going on in the world. I can concentrate on what’s around me and what effects me directly. I will run cable out to the garage so I can get wireless in the tipi… eventually. Right now it’s not on my list of “priorities” and that should tell you something. So again, thank you dear reader. Hope you stay cool and dry and follow your dreams!

The Bees Knees

Today after finishing my daily chores (feed/water rabbits, check for eggs, feed/water chickens, feed/water baby chicks, water seedlings, feed/water dogs), I drove to Cass Lake to meet up with my Mom and her friend. We then drove together to Hackensack and picked up my new colony of honeybees. I was very impressed at the turn out of beekeepers that were arriving to pick up their packages of bees- who knew there were so many that share this hobby. The employees at http://www.mannlakeltd.com/ were very helpful and polite.

I received my package of bees which is basically a small wood box with screens on the sides. There are 3# of bees inside the box (about 10,000 bees), a queen in her own separate cage and a can of syrup. The can of syrup is what the bees feed from during transport. The queen is in her own separate cage because she is “new” to the other bees and they wind up “getting acquainted” during there trip.

DSC_0449

Gene is laid up with troublesome back problems at the moment, so he watched from the window as I installed the new colony of bees into the hive I bought last December. After removing the can of syrup (it is actually what helps seal the hole in the box) I took out the queen cage and replaced the cork in her cage with a marshmallow. The worker bees will eventually eat through the marshmallow and release the queen. After securing the queen in the hive I dumped the rest of the bees in. I’ve never heard a swarm of bees up close and they were certainly making tons of racket buzzing loudly- you definitely can tell when they are pissed! I sealed up the hive and walked back to the house- with a few bees still clinging to my suit.

DSC_0445 DSC_0448

Now I just sit back and wait a few days until it’s time to check on them. I will open the hive to make sure that the queen has been released from her cage and check to make sure the worker bees are building comb on the frames. Eventually the queen will start laying and the population of the hive will grow. By August I should have around 50,000 bees. I wont be able to collect any honey until next season, as they will need this summers supply to survive through the winter. Next year the colony will start out stronger and will produce extra honey that I can “rob.”

The weather has been rainy all week so I haven’t been able to put up the tipi yet. I’m hoping this next week will bring better weather and I should have the tipi set up soon. I also ran into problems with the maple tree sap. The weather prevented me from building a fire and I was not able to boil down the sap; it spoiled! Next year I should have the wood stove fired up in the tipi and I won’t need to rely on a nice day to boil sap. The garden is waiting to be tilled. The tiller I borrowed from the neighbor isn’t big enough to cut through the sod in the yard. Plans are underway with a local farmer who is hopefully going to bring over his tractor and get the job done. I have cabbage seedlings that are patiently waiting to go outside!

Spring is underway and everything is taking off at once- makes me glad that I was able to spend all winter resting up! Till next time…

Sweet Sticky Fingers!

WOW! The cold snap broke this morning and I’m in the middle of a full-on sap run. I collected 5 gallons already and the buckets are half full again. I guess I just needed a little patience- that post yesterday to the weather God’s probably helped as well. I guess I’m not going to have to buy my maple syrup this year after all. I’m spending the weekend at my parents, so I won’t be able to start boiling until Monday. For now, the pond is helping keep my jugs of sap cool. I took a big sip of sap and it was SWEET and refreshing. If you have Maple trees in your yard, I highly suggest you give this a try… and stop buying that FAKE CRAP. Info and supplies can be found at: http://www.tapmytrees.com

 

(above photo from: http://www.tapmytrees.com)

Seriously, someone turn on the heat!

First, I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE WEATHER GODS! It was going so well… then the cold hit… AGAIN! I was super excited to get out and tap the maple trees, which I did two weeks ago. The sap started to flow and things were looking good, then BAM! In comes the cold and freezes everything up. In order to get the trees to “pump” sap you need freezing night time temps and warm day time temps, and this needs to happen before the trees bud or you get “off-flavors” in your syrup. I only have about 2 gallons of sap so far, not nearly enough to make it worth my while to boil down to syrup. The ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1. I was discussing this with my Mother the other day and she said, “if it’s only 40:1 you would think that maple syrup would cost more. I mean a bottle of syrup is pretty cheap.” I had to laugh at that one. Like most people, my Mom doesn’t know that the “maple syrup” you buy in stores is just water, corn syrup and maple flavoring (and various preserving agents). It’s NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE REAL THING. Corn, corn, corn… it’s in everything, literally! If you haven’t read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, you really fucking should! Excuse my french.

Gene and I spent the day yesterday surveying the land around the property and settled on a spot to erect the tipi. We chose a patch of flat grassland next to the barn, rather than an area in the woods. I debated the amount of work it would take to clear trees, level the land and run power and water to an area in the woods. In the end I settled for convenience and less work. I can run temporary power from the barn to the tipi as well as water without having 100’s of feet of cords and hose. Also, I’m close to the animals so that I can respond if there is ever a ruckus in the middle of the night… electric fence or not, hungry animals are determined. One other advantage of the location is that the tipi is visible from the road. I can take advantage of peoples curiosity and hopefully entice them onto the property to buy eggs!

Tonight the nest box goes into the rabbit cage… if all goes well I should have baby bunnies on Sunday. I didn’t plan on “Easter Bunnies” when I bred the doe, but by golly that’s just the way it timed out! I’m building a new hutch for the rabbits that will be located outside next to the barn as soon as the giant pile of snow goes away. Actually it’s not a hutch, but rather a 2×4 frame that I can suspend the wire cages from. Right now the rabbits are still in the garage with litter pans underneath. I hate litter pans… what a mess. The new spring, summer, fall (they have to go back in the garage for winter-too cold) housing will allow for the droppings to just collect on the ground where I can scoop them up and put them in the garden. I’m going to allow the chickens access to the droppings too- apparently from what I’ve read, the chickens love to dig through the pile and pick out worms and other creepy crawlies.

The chickens are enjoying the move back to the barn, despite the cold. It’s been a long winter and they haven’t seen grass for a long time. Velvita the duck, really enjoys all the mud puddles and quacks and grunts excitedly when ever she finds a new one. I wonder how out of place she feels being surrounded by all the chickens? I can also say that Velvita is out producing the chickens when it comes to eggs. She started laying again back in February and has faithfully laid an egg everyday since. I have 15 new chicks coming on Tuesday and I’m excited for some of the new breeds I will be raising. Including 3 Araucanas that lay blue-green colored eggs.

a078ec886a8eda895f99a7dda005c65a

I’ve got the garden plot pretty much laid out. It’s going to be a long day of tilling soil once the ground finishes thawing out. I tried to picture our forefathers doing this work with a horse and plow and came to the conclusion that we are serious pussies when it comes to hard work. I will be using a gas powered tiller… and that’s still a lot of work! The cabbage seedlings are doing well and will soon be joined by tomatoes and peppers. It’s all coming together!

My ankle, for the most part, is all healed! No pun intended…

All this “new stuff” to learn! It’s exciting and overwhelming at times. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m actually doing this. I definitely don’t regret the decision. I miss my city friends and hope that a few of them make the trip North this summer for a visit… it gets lonely here some times. At this point, the positives definitely out weigh the negatives… hopefully this trend continues. If my biggest gripe come summer is HEAT and BUGS… I’m doing things right!

Stay warm 🙂