Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014 Home Again

We arrived home from our book trip on July 3rd.  Total mileage for the trip was over 7,630 miles.  A lot happened on it but I don't have a summary organized yet so it will have to wait.  This posting will be some of the things that have happened since we arrived home on the third.

We purchased fireworks on the way home.  We decided to have our celebration the 5th instead of the fourth to give us more time to get the place ready for company.  We were gone during the monsoon season so we expected the yard to be severely overgrown.  We were not disappointed!  The grass had all gone to seed and was waist high and thick.  We purchased a good power mower on the way through Kalispell just for cutting through the tall grass.  After a couple of long days working with the weed eater and mower we got the yard in good shape.  We had most of the kids over to begin the evening with a barbecue and games then shot off about $500.00 worth of fireworks in the evening.

It was a good show.  We plan on doubling our fireworks expenditures for next year.  We'll buy more things for the kids to shoot in the afternoon while waiting for it to get dark to light up the big stuff.

We use game cameras for security cams.  This one caught some good photos of a whitetail deer and her fawn.  Most of what I've seen has been deer and rabbits.  There are reports of a grizzly bear roaming the area so I may have photos of it on another camera.  Nothing is missing so I didn't expect to find much in the way of illegal activity.

I used the weed eater and mower to clear some of the grass that had grown up on the garden paths while we were gone.  I tilled up the planting sections before we left but there wasn't anything I could to stop the grass from growing on the pathways.  You can see a sample of the tall grass we are dealing with on the far side of the photo.

The gophers moved in while we were gone so I set out a bunch of traps.  I caught four of the little buggers one day and average two per day for the other days.  The tall grass gives them good cover and about the only way to get them now is by trapping them.

We used all the water in the main tank so I loaded up the barrels and we made a couple of water runs. I have seven, fifty-gallon barrels here so I can get about 350 gallons per trip.  We filled these up in Fortine since we were going there anyway.  Normally I either pump it out of the lake or go to a neighbor's house to fill them.

We purchased 84 meat chickens.  I called up the local feed supply store to see if they had any chicks left and he said they had about 60 Cornish Cross chicks to sell.  We told him we'd take them all and when the final count was made we had 84.  He was selling them for $1.00 each and they were two-weeks old so he'd already been feeding them awhile so we got a really good deal!  These little guys are eating machines.  We take the food away after 12 hours to keep them from overeating.  We'll be getting a lot of meals out of this batch and canning a bunch of them too.

The "run" outside the henhouse was overgrown with grass and raspberry vines.  Susan got inside and cut it all out with hand clippers so the chicks could get outside.  Note the grass outside the pen and how tall and thick it is.  It was the same inside the pen.

Another view of the chicken run.  This is too small for 84 chickens so we'll split them up into other pens as they get bigger to keep their stress levels down.

We've also done some brush clearing.  I cut this out with the brush blade on the weed-eater (used the chainsaw for the big stuff) to make it easier to get into and out of the driveway.  I also took out a small tree near the road.  I used the winch on the truck to remove the tree stump.  I used a snatch block to double the pulling power of the (12,000 lb.) winch.  The winch barely grunted in exertion but we had to put the tires of the truck up against another stump to hold the truck back.  It was sliding all four tires.  It's a good way to remove smallish sized stumps as long as you can chain the truck to a good anchor.

The water tank needed cleaned so after draining it to water the garden I let it dry for a day then scooped the gunk out of it.  There were also left-over fireworks in the tank.  The kids liked seeing stuff blow up underwater.

We've been reading grocery store labels more and have been shocked at the amounts of salt and sugar used in processed food.  We had a hankering for turkey and finally found some that weren't injected with astronomical amounts of salt and other seasonings.  They were pricey but we'll get a lot of meals out of this one.  We have neighbors raising turkeys this year so we'll probably do some trading of chickens for a turkey or two this fall.  I can also shoot one during hunting season.  They don't have as much meat as a domestic turkey but they're still good, organic meat. 
Here Susan is picking the meat from the bones for use later.  Nothing is wasted.

After the first meal Susan boiled down the leftovers for broth and meat.  We'll use it all eventually.  We're also going to grind some for canning in addition to the regular small chunks for stews, casseroles, etc.

When we got back from our second water run Susan heard air escaping from one of the tires.  It had a large screw in it.  The good thing is that it's in a place I can fix without removing the tire and rim from the truck.

I marked it well with a tire crayon.

I then unscrewed it from the tire.

Scott is holding it in his hand.  It's fairly large.

I'll use a plug to repair it.  The first step is to ream the hole out good.

Next you put a plug on the installation tool and generously lube the plug with rubber cement. (Use lots of rubber cement!)

Now you just shove the plug through the hole leaving a little of the plug showing above the hole.

Pull back on the installation tool and the plug stays in the tire.  Leak fixed!  I then fired up the compressor and pumped the tire up to 80 PSI.

Susan has been busy in the garden.  Even though we got a late start we still planted some potatoes, carrots and onions.  Scott is big enough to help some although his attention span is still pretty short.  At least he knows to not step on the new plants and how to distinguish the weeds from the plants.
There's a lot more going on that's not on here.  Susan has put in hours cleaning out outbuildings and sorting things in piles to give away and throw away.  We've done laundry and moved our tubs back outside.  Most meals are prepared from raw ingredients which takes extra time.  We finally took one hot afternoon off to paddle around Murphy Lake in the canoe and kayak.  The temperatures have been in the upper 80's and low 90's so we do most of our outside work early in the mornings before it gets too hot and before the mosquitoes awake.