Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reclaimed Projects

Since we put hardwood floors in the back of the house in April, our renovation has been somewhat on hold.  I won't bore you with the details as to why, but if you've ever worked on your own home renovation, you probably understand.  Because by the way, this isn't exactly Sarah's House.  Sarah gets to hire contractors and go shopping for cool fabrics.  We do most of the dirty work ourselves and scrounge for deals to fit a very tight budget, so it's east to get burnt out.

Lately, however, we've reclaimed some of our projects.  And I don't use the word "reclaimed" lightly:

A reclaimed mantle we bought a couple years ago, and repaired and painted last week.  To be installed in Akea's room.

The new dining room table.  This was Byron's brainchild, after he struggled with what to do with the leftover heart pine flooring that had been original to the house. 
If you're new to the blog, we had to rip up the flooring in the hall, parlor, and dining room in order to repair some serious termite damage.  We were able to reuse the flooring in the hallway and parlor, but because of the termites, we didn't have enough for the dining room.  So we've been tripping over the extra flooring for two years, until Byron had this fabulous idea.  Why not use it for a 9' long dining room table?  So we contacted a carpenter we'd randomly met a couple years ago, and he used reclaimed walnut legs, an old walnut beam, and our flooring to make us the ultimate farmhouse dining table!  I just put the first coat of Waterlox finish on it yesterday, so more photos to come.

Reclaimed walnut legs.

On one side of the table, we'll place this church pew from the early 1800s.  Originally almost 10' long, the carpenter cut it down so it would fit the table.  The seat will be Waterloxed (hey, I made a new verb!) and we'll paint the sides and back.  Byron wants brown and I want an accent color.

Another view of the bench.

Remember my re-upholstery project??  Here's the chair I finished.  I never managed to get to the matching chair or the sofa.  But there's always next year...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Very Small "First"

We've experienced a lot of "firsts" in the past year.  Byron and I didn't grow up homesteading/farming.  Heck, I don't even think I had a garden until I was married!  We've raised chickens for meat and eggs, are raising two steers for meat, were given goats, planted fruit trees, created The Biggest Garden Ever (which since has become The Garden of Everlasting Weeds), and the list goes on.  And didn't I just see that July was declared the hottest July in the history of Julys?

Sometimes, you can have too many "firsts" at once, even if they do take place over the course of a year. 

But then in the midst of feeling overwhelmed, you get a first like this:

One of our Rhode Island Red Hens got broody.  So we thought we'd stick a few (three) eggs under her and see what happened. 
Byron is great at telling when an egg is fertilized.  Basically, he grabs some freshly-laid eggs, a flashlight, and disappears into Charlie's closet for a few minutes.  It's a talent I can't mimic or explain.  He was right on all three counts, and here's how we know:

Egg #1: I accidentally collected Egg #1 and stuck it in a carton, in the fridge.  I'd had a brain fart and thought we had put two eggs under Broody Hen, not three.  Thankfully, Byron caught my mistake, and of course he had to go crack it open to see what was inside.  Let's just say that's not the only chicken I accidentally killed that week, but more on that later.

Egg #2: This egg hatched today, but the chick was dead.

Egg #3: This egg hatched today, and the chick was alive.  Here's Baby Chick with Mama Hen:

We placed them in the brooder, away from the other hens.  Any ideas on how long we should leave them in there?  Byron found the chick outside of the nest box initially, so we were a little concerned about leaving them with the other hens.
So we'll see how well Baby Chick does.  Mama Hen seems to be getting the whole mom thing.  She's even abandoned three other eggs we put under her to take care of this little one.  Okay, so maybe that's not optimal parenting, but we're talking about a chicken here. (UPDATE: As of last night, she was sitting on the eggs again and had Baby Chick tucked under her wing.)

Before I sign off, a lot of people have asked me what it means to have a broody hen.  Here's what I know about it:

1. Something kicks in (hormones??) to drive a hen to sit on the nest box ALL THE TIME.  She'll only get up maybe once a day to eat and drink.  This means she's broody.  She wants to be a mom.
2. When a hen gets broody, she clucks a lot, especially when she's off the nest.  It's like some sort of chicken paranoia.
3.  You'll also notice that her feathers get ruffled, literally.  She looks like a mom, and moms have no time to groom in the morning.  Kind of like this:

Mama Hen bristles at me and my camera.
4.  Eggs take 21 days to hatch.  They really do need to be at a pretty consistent temperature, so if Broody Hen gets confused and goes and sits on some other eggs, you may want to move her or the eggs so that the eggs can incubate.  Watch your fingers; she'll bite!
5. Mark the eggs.  We made a small "x" with a Sharpie, but it might be better to put the date on the eggs so you can know when to expect your little hatchlings to, well, hatch.
6. From what I've read, the death rate of new chicks hatched this way is pretty high, so don't be disappointed or give up if it doesn't work the first time.

As always, thanks for sticking with me through this rather busy season!  I'm linking up with Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Rural Thursdays!