Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saving Old Socks

Before I throw anything into the trash, I ask myself if there is some other use for it.  If you were around in the early days of the personal computer, you probably remember those large floppy diskettes.  This was long before the days of flash drives and SD cards.  In those days, we had plastic boxes with hinged tops where we stored our "floppies".   When the current generation of PCs made these old floppy diskettes obsolete, I ended up using one of the storage boxes as a recipe box:

Recently, while doing the laundry, I decided to "retire" some of Tom's old socks that were about worn out.

I did't throw these away, though.  Instead, I used some scissors to cut them up and make cleaning rags.

First, cut off the toe.

Next, cut along the folded part of the sock, all the way up the back.

You end up with a nice size cleaning rag that is soft and absorbent.  They can be washed and reused if the cleaning job is light.  However, for messy jobs, such as refinishing furniture, you just use them and throw them away.  Easy cleanup!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baby Chicks

It has been a while since my last post, but we've been pretty busy and time has gotten away from me.  Everyone told me that would happen when I retired and I guess it is true!

The big news is we have 8 baby chicks.  We only have 3 chickens left from our first bunch of 6 that we bought 2 years ago.   They are grand old ladies now and have slowed down on their egg laying.  So, we decided it was time to add some new life to the flock.  Here is a picture of our new babies right after we got them.

We put them in a large watering tub that we bought during the drought a couple of years ago.  Our intent was to fill it with water for the wildlife.  But, it ended up being a source of entertainment for our grandkids.  (See this post from January 2013:  Ice Engineering )

It is important to protect the chicks from predators.  So, to start out, we set the tub in our greenhouse.   It is also important to provide them with a source of heat early in the spring before they get their real feathers.  So, we have a heat lamp that we turn on for them on cold days and at night.

It is amazing how quickly the chicks grow.  After a few days they began to grow wing feathers, like this.

Now, they are barely 2 weeks old and some of them are already growing tail feathers!

They seem to need a lot of rest because at times they will suddenly fall asleep right in the middle of things.  The first time I noticed this, I thought the chick had died and almost panicked, only to have it jump up and run off when I reached down to touch it!

At other times, they take a "group nap" where everyone goes to sleep at once.

It didn't take them long to discover the food and water.

After developing the wing feathers, they quickly learned to fly.  So, we have had to move them out of the brooder tub into a larger pen that Tom fixed for them in the garage.

 We put cardboard around the perimeter of the pen to keep out drafts of cold air and we put a cover on it because we open the garage door during the day and want to guard against stray cats and other predators.

The chicks seemed a little overwhelmed with all the space in their new home and stayed in a huddle the first couple of days.  But, as they grow larger, they are getting braver and starting to explore the new pen.

 They can stay in this bigger pen for several weeks, but we will eventually have to introduce them to the older chickens.  We'll probably start out by moving this small pen outside and setting it beside the large pen our older chickens are in.  This will allow them to get acquainted through the fence.  I'm hoping there will be no fights and that flock tranquility will result.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Deer Cages

From my previous posts, you know that we have fed the deer this past winter and that we have wildlife cameras that capture pictures of the deer and other wildlife that comes around.  In fact, my last post dealing with this subject was 3 weeks ago.


There are pros and cons to feeding the deer.  For one thing, we enjoy the pictures from the wildlife camera and also the rare instances when we see them in the daylight.  However, attracting them onto the property invites them to sample other delicacies on the farm in addition to the food we put out for them.  

Last September we planted several small pine trees that we got for free at the county fair.  Here is a small pine tree that we planted last year.  The deer have eaten the tips off of every branch!

Along with the deer damage and the hard winter we've just come through, I'm not sure this small tree is going to come out this spring.  Notice that we have put some wire around it.  This is to keep the deer from nibbling any more of it.  Unfortunately, we didn't take this precaution until it was too late.  Sort of like closing the barn door after the horses are out!

I wondered what the deer would think of this new development in their environment and focused the camera on the cages to see their reactions.  As you can see below, it did not escape their attention.

Other animals enjoy the deer corn.  Among them are the neighborhood crows, but they don't eat the trees!

Oh, and I wonder who this old guy is?  He must be the one who puts out food for the deer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Compost Spreader

Last fall we invested in the following piece of equipment.

It was billed as a "manure" spreader, but we bought it to spread compost instead.  Before we got it, the process of spreading compost was quite laborious and involved hauling compost to the field with the truck and then unloading it by hand with a shovel.  This has made our lives a lot easier.

Notice that it hooks on the back of our riding lawnmower.  Tom then uses the tractor to scoop compost into it.

The spreader has paddles that rotate and throw the compost out while it is running.  There is a belt on the floor of the hopper that moves the compost from front to back where the paddles are located.

Here's a picture of it in action.  Tom is using it to spread compost between the rows of tomato trellises.

In another 2 or 3 weeks, we'll set out the tomato plants we have grown from seed.  Then, we'll be waiting in anticipation for those first ripe tomatoes of the season.  My mouth is drooling already!