Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Update: Coop is Toasty Warm

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's 27 degrees outside right now.  It's 48.2 degrees in the coop right now, so the girls stayed toasty warm last night!   And that's a good thing, because I don't knit and North Face doesn't make jackets that small.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Despite my ardent wishing for the 70 degree weather to stay around until March, it looks like Old Man Winter is finally here for a visit.  He's a most unwelcome guest in my book.  The mercury is dipping all the way down into the 30's at night and tonight it's even supposed to go to 23 degrees. 

The coop seems to be about 4 to 5 degrees warmer than the the outside temp without any kind of intervention.  I certainly don't want the girls to suffer from any frozen feet or combs and I'd rather avoid having their water freeze up, so I hit Target and found this little mini heater that I setup for them. It's got a fan and a thermostat which I set at 60 degrees, the lowest setting.  I just stuck it in one of built-in nesting boxes that they refuse to use right now.  I hate doing this at the last minute after they've already roosted for the night, and I hope they're not disturbed by the fan (it seems to be pretty darn quiet.)  That'll have to work until the weekend when I can get a timer on it rather than using the thermostat.  

Wishing for warmer weather,

This is Madness

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just a quick note before I go snooze.  And, yes, I realize it's 2:00 p.m.  I wasn't planning on going out for Black Friday today until J. saw the Cabela's ad where they're selling a Ruger 10/22 for just $169 as a doorbuster.  That and the opportunity to win a gun, free sweatshirt or up to a $100 gift card if you're one of the first 800 people in line.

We headed over there at midnight and ended up 328 and 329 in line.  The weather was actually pretty nice compared to this time last year.  It was 48 degrees at midnight but that darn Cabelas is in the middle of a wind tunnel, so it felt more like 32!  We thought we were smart in taking our camp chairs with us but you couldn't sit down or your butt would freeze off.  And the guy in front of us had shorts and a light jacket on.  He was hatin' life by 5 a.m. when they opened.

I do have to say, however, that Cabelas had the most orderly Black Friday event of any retailer I have been to.  No pushing, no shoving.  The store wouldn't even let you get close to the doors and, since they were handing out envelopes with your "prize" in them, you had to go single file.  Kudos to Cabelas!

J. ended up getting his 10/22 and we were out of there very quickly, owing to the fact that they did all the paperwork outside before the store even opened.  Used a $10 off $50 and the $40 he got for selling the Kindle that he won, so we got a pretty good deal (especially since we are seeing these going for well over $200 at auction for used guns!)  Then it was off to Tractor Supply to pick up a cheapie air compressor for the farm.  The one we have out there is just way too small.  Especially since J. is known for having flat tires on everything he owns. 

Hope you had a nice, uneventful day after Thanksgiving.  I'm out!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's finally arrived the - the big day of eating too much, afternoon naps, the Macy's parade and football.  J. and I will be feasting on ham and turkey today - in fact, I need to get downstairs and get the bird all fluffed and buffed and put in the oven.  We're trying the Boar's Head brown sugar and spice glaze on the ham this year and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  I can't wait for the smell of turkey and trimmings to fill the house.  And I can't wait to get out and get a paper so that I can flip through all the ads.

But, in all seriousness, Thanksgiving Day is time when we should all pause (if even for just 5 minutes) to reflect on what we have even if we don't "have" everything we think we need or want.  When we were at dinner Tuesday night, I mentioned to J. that I thought we were very blessed.  We have each other, our health, a nice home, good jobs and wondeful friends and family.  There are many people right now that don't have one or all of those things, especially in our current economy.  My boss just lost his wife of 40 years which, to me, is unimaginable.  I certainly don't take these things for granted and never will.  So, please, take a minute somewhere in between the mashed potatoes and the football game to be thankful for what you have.

J. and I hope your Thanksgiving finds you surrounded by family, friends and feast.  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Coop Goes Hi-Tech

Monday, November 21, 2011

How could a bunch of nerds have a chicken coop and NOT put technology in it?  The answer is "they can't".  I've been debating about whether or not to heat the chicken coop and extend their daylight hours.  It has been basically impossible to find a remote dimmer that's also a timer, and I'm not an electrical engineer so I won't be cobbling together my own.   But that's a problem that will have to be tackled another day.

J. surprised me today with this Ambient Weather WS-0101 wireless thermohygrometer with optional humidity calibration remote weather monitor that he installed in the coop.  So now I can at least see what the temperature is in the chicken's bedroom without leaving the comfort of our home office!  That's pretty darn cool, if you ask me.  And, with one of the windows still slightly open in the coop, it's staying about 4 degrees above outside temp.  This morning when it was 34 degrees outside, the girls were a cozy 38.  (Hey, they have the equivalent of a down comforter on - they're not cold, trust me.  How do I know this? Because they run around like a bunch of maniacs when I let them out.)

Now we just have to tackle the light and heat issue.  And plan where to put the Christmas lights.  :-)

Roadtrip for Warm Cider Donuts

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If you live anywhere near Kansas City, you probably have heard of or even been to Louisburg Cider Mill.  Ask anyone and they'll probably say "Ohhh, their warm cider donuts are to die for!"  Well, believe it or not, J. and I have never been there...at least not until today. I had wanted to go for Ciderfest, which is in October and somehow totally missed it.  They have all kinds of crafts, a gigantic pumpkin patch, a corn maze, and you can watch them make the cider and the donuts.  The place is absolutely packed, and the fields surrounding the mill are filled with parked cars.  Can't say I feel like I missed that crowd.

So J. and I headed down there this afternoon with friend Paula and her daught Amanda.  It's about a 20 mile ride south from the KC area.  On a beautiful 70-degree day in late November, I don't think any of us much minded being out and about.

The mill is actually a collection of old barns (some of them over 120 years old!) set on 80 acres.  The one in the picture above is where they actually make the cider.  It wasn't open today, but the store was and we had alot of fun looking at all the stuff they had for sale (cider, of course, but also teas, root beer, sarsparilla, farm cheeses, homemade candy, gift sets).  J. grabbed a jar of apple butter and four 1/2 gallons of honeycrisp apple cider to bring back with us.  I couldn't resist the rooster cookie cutter.  And then we all ordered some of their fresh cider donuts and cider slushies.  Mmmmmm....

Served up warm in a white paper sack by the half dozen or dozen.  Everything I've heard previously was right...these are incredibly good.  Kind of like a cake donut - soft and moist with a slight hint of apple cider.  The only thing I would change would be to add some chocolate.

Droolingly yours,

What's Old is New Again

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Here's what we've been up to the past couple of days:  A couple of weekends ago, J. and I hit an auction (which is where we usually are on the weekends) and I picked up these old oil lamps for $12 each.  They didn't look like that picture, though.  They were dirty, the brass was dull, and the wicks were old. 

J. put gas in the reservoirs to remove all the old, sticky residue - you just let it sit for a day or two and it comes right off.  We cleaned the burners with steel wool (or a stiff brass brush works also) and the chimneys with soap and water.  New wicks and clear oil lamp from Ace Hardware and they're just like new again!

Gettin' Ready for Strawberries

Sunday, November 13, 2011

J. is a strawberry lover. I have to confess that I've never grown strawberries before, but I'm willing to try. We had some parts and pieces left over from the two big raised beds that we put in this Spring, so we spent the beautiful day today (65 degrees in mid-November!) cobbling together a Franken-bed.

First, the pieces. These are part of a vinyl fence that was cut up as part of our initial raised bed project. Since we only had 4 pieces, this one was going to be 1/2 the size of the others at about 4' x 4'.

Next we took the 4" x 4" vinyl fence post and cut it into 17 3/4" pieces and then cut out a slot for the panels to fit into.  These panels just happened to be 3/4" thick and 12" tall.  This is pretty easy to do with a Sonicrafter, which is what we used, or you could use a drill and a jigsaw.  Here's J. cleaning up the plastic burrs with a pocket knife.  He would make a great hand model, don'tcha think?

Next, put everything together and square it up.  Two panels should run long all the way through the corner posts and the other two side panels will butt up against them (see the pic below to see what I'm talking about).  Our yard has a slight slope to it, so we had to dig down one side to get everything level.  Once it's where you want it, cut some rebar and hammer it into the inside corner.  This will keep everything together.

When you're done, it will look like this:

And then all that's left is to fill it with dirt. 

It took 3/4 of a pallet of 40 lb bags of top soil and 15 bags of MooNure to fill this bed.  We mixed it all in together, so it should be a great place to transplant my strawberry plants to.  Right now, they're living where the watermelons were.

By the way, I had to giggle over the MooNure bags.   Not only does it prominently features a cow's *ss, but it also states "We are Number 1 in the Number 2 business".  I've known some people in my life that might challenge them for the title of "King of Bullshit".  LOL. 

This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop.  Click on the button below to check out what other homesteadin' folks are up to!


Remembering our Veterans

Friday, November 11, 2011

This is a beautiful poem that a friend emailed to me.  It's made its rounds on the Internet so , unfortunately, I'm not sure who to attribute it to.  I found myself thinking of my grandfather, who fought in World War II and is long since gone, as I read this.  There are so many families whose loved ones didn't return from the battlefield and so I count myself lucky that I was able to know him.

We can't begin to repay the debt that is owed to our veterans.  But we can spend today and every day honoring the sacrifices that they and their families have made since the birth of this great country.   Freedom is not free - don't waste it.

A Soldier's Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear..
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.."

" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Happy Birthday to the Devil Dogs!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And a second happy birthday to my honey, who served in the first Gulf War.

New Composters

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Another auction this weekend and this one was a score!  We met the owner and he had a 5,000 square foot house that he and his wife had turned into a nursery\landscaping business and they were selling everything including a 14' x 18' greenhouse.  I wish I had a place to put that, because it only went for $1600.

J and I. picked up a ton of stuff for rock bottom prices at this sale but the reason I went was these Earth Machine composting bins.  I'd been debating whether to build some out of the pallets we had from all the bagged dirt and manure we'd been hauling.  But, ultimately, that wouldn't be very pretty.  Of course, it's very important that your urban farm be pretty.  (Oh, gosh, I can hear the snickering now.) Okay, it doesn't have to be pretty but does it hurt that it's aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  (Same thing. *snicker*)

I did alot of research on these before we went to the sale.  These are pretty cool, actually, and there are tons of rave reviews.  You can control the amount of air going into them, you can keep mice and other rodents out of them, they're made from heavy duty and durable plastic, and you can move them around if needed.  We got two of them for $20 each.  Probably would have gotten them cheaper if I hadn't been so enthusiastic and let the auctioneer drop the opening bid down.  Despite alot of people looking at them, nobody bid against me. 

The only problem is that I'm going to have to resist decorating these things.  For some reason, they remind me of the Daleks on the Dr. Who show.  Anybody else see the resemblance?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...