Some things have moved from our To Do List to our To Done List. And just in time because we had our first big snowfall (about 14"). Although we still have time and energy to dig around the snow and get more of the outside things accomplished. With the wonderful help of a hired backhoe, we were able to trench 400' and install four frost-free hydrants. It rained too soon after and we had a bit of a mud mess, unfortunately. But I LOVE these hydrants. I mistakenly left a hose attached to one and froze the line - bad, bad, bad - something this California/Texan didn't understand. I was lucky and it thawed out without bursting or damaging anything. Otherwise, I'd be digging it up myself with a pick and shovel... Not good.
Frank installed new "pig proof" fencing (wire mesh plus two electric wires at top at bottom) enclosing about 6 1/2 acres. Our boar, Tim, the three sows and remaining piglets are having a fabulous time running the fenceline and exploring their new range.
The wood cook stove is installed in the kitchen, with a new stove pipe and chimney liner. Maddrey tested it out by cooking our entire Thanksgiving meal in it, which included roast chicken, stuffing, several pies and much more. See our post (coming soon) about Adventures in Wood Stove Cooking.
The rabbits are generously sharing their hoop house with goats, sheep and our Great Pyranees Yeti. Frank added a large fenced paddock in the garden, so the goats and sheep are doing some garden clean up for us.
My "outlaw" dogs have been moved from the bottom of the pasture to their fancy winter trailer and temporary yard. A friend nicknamed them "outlaws" because they will both happily kill chickens (and anything else their size) with no compunction. They are herding/terrier mixed-breed mutts who have never lived on a farm - so I have training to do as time allows (please let it be possible to train them off killing chickens!) Meanwhile, Frank will expand the yard by quite a bit in spring. For the winter, the trailer was bedded with wood shavings and I built a little "bedroom" out of straw bales that the two dogs share. They are toasty and happy and I appreciate that they're closer to the house.
Maddrey has cleaned, repaired and painted the wood stove for the basement. But Frank had to remove the existing chimney lining, replace it with a longer, better lining, then decommission the living room stove before he could hook up the basement stove. Which would mean a very cold house for several hours. So we could either leave for the day OR he could stay up all night, while we were cozy in bed. He chose to work all night. ALL night. But after much clanging and banging and footsteps up and down stairs and on the roof - it was a very noisy night - we awoke to a warmer house! The basement stove is working great. Hooray.
Frank has also installed more insulation in the unfinished rooms of the attic, so we'll be losing a lot less heat as well.
Maddrey ended up using rocks more than earth bags to secure the hoop house plastic for the Chicken Solarium. She lined the interior with net to keep the birds from ruining the plastic and Frank backed up their summer trailer house to the front door. So the chickens have a bright, cozy hoop house for the day and a cozy trailer to roost in safe and sound at night.
The wall tent was pulled down, the half-wall in the basement is built and Frank has all the necessary parts for a hoop house for the tractor storage - he just needs the time and daylight to get 'er done. We had a distracting winter ice storm that left us without power for a couple of days, which meant no water - especially no hot water. Fortunately, we have an old hand-dug well with visible water about eight feet down. Frank shocked the water with bleach and we will have it tested for future emergencies - but it was good enough to keep the animals watered until we got power back.
What did John Denver say? Life on a farm is kinda laid back... What WAS he talking about?
More updates to come!