Chicken Survivor

Well, we're down to 7 chickens now. One of the Dominecker hens is MIA. We figure some predatory bird must have taken her during the day. We had noticed that one of the Dominecker hens sometimes wandered off away from the flock, so that probably contributed to her disappearance. We'll miss the eggs, unnamed bird.

Speaking of eggs, our hens have practically stopped producing eggs for the season. We read about the fact that the shorter days would cause the pause in egg production, but it was a more sudden transition than I expected. Within a week, we went from collecting 6-7 eggs per day to 1 per day (and I'm sure that won't last, either). We could add artificial light to the chicken house, which would keep them laying, but it also "burns them out" sooner in their life. This year, I think we'll let them rest over the winter.

This morning at 8:30am, I spotted a deer walking toward the house from the south. It was acting a bit more skittish than most deer we've seen, and that's because it was a buck. It was difficult to see the spike antlers on his head, but once he walked into an open sunny spot it was obvious. He passed by the east edge of the pond and walked over the ridge and down toward the shed. We both watched him until he was out of sight. A pleasant start to a fall Thanksgiving morning.

JoAnna cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast, served as breakfast sliders on soft dinner rolls. Another pleasantry. (Thanks, JoAnna).

woo hoo!


woo hoo!

mundane but exciting

Kelly and I made a late-evening trip to Home Depot to get a few things, so we could FINISH some of the projects that have been left up-in-the-air.

At this very moment, we're finishing the floor installation in the dining room & bedroom.  Kelly and I started it before his most recent trip to Los Angeles. We got a third of the way done.  Then, I hired Monty Garrett (the boyfriend of Rebecca Wysock of Sunnybook Farms, where we board the dogs when we're away) to come over on Monday, and he spent a day putting in the next third, but we had to stop because we didn't have the t-spacer thingy we needed.  I made a phonecall to Lumber Liquidators to find out why the pieces we ordered (a month ago!) hadn't yet arrived, and a very apologetic woman promised to fedex them from another location.  They arrived the next day -- but Monty was working at his regular gig, and Kelly wouldn't be back to finish. I'm not comfortable with the circular saw, so i didn't want to try and use it without anyone around to call 911.  Taking a short break at the moment, but we'll have the last third finished in a couple hours.

Other projects to be completed today are:
  • install doorknobs for the French doors.  we haven't stained them yet, but those lovely brushed-nickel handles are just sitting on the floor getting in the way.
  • lights to be installed in Cabinetzilla - i cringe when i think about how much the hole-cutting bit and the adaptor thingy that goes in the drill cost, but this is a job that requires the right tools.
  • mount blinds we're able to use the gorgeous (and not exactly inexpensive) blinds that we had purchased and installed in the house we rented in Glendale... knowing that we'd eventually use them in the house we eventually built... and we actually built the house!
  • install "sweep" on guest bath door with hopes that it will increase the sound-insulation of the bathroom from the rest of the house. We've got a double-layer of drywall on that wall, as well as a solid-core door, and this is the final step.
Then we've got two - count 'em, TWO - social engagements tomorrow: one is a meetup with other godless heathens, and after that, dinner with other people we met through another meetup...  Oddly, they lived just a few blocks away from us in Santa Monica, but of course, being Santa Monica, where nobody makes eye contact much less has a conversation, we'd never met them there so we'll meet them here.
We've met more of our neighbors here in Prospect than we EVER did in 14 years of living in Los Angeles county. Let me explain how twisted this is: 
   We moved in here full-time in June. 
   It's November. 
In six months, we've met 8 families in our neighborhood, which exceeds the TOTAL number of neighbors we met in *all* of our Los Angeles residences combined.  ... Yeah.

Foamhenge departs

Back in April (I think) I put the trailer to use and took advantage of a big discount on some rigid foam insulation. I saw the ad on craigslist; 4' x 8' sheets of 2-inch Owens Corning foamulaR brand insulation for half of the retail price. An insulation company in Nashville had a big job, and ended up with ~100 sheets left over from the semi-trailer load that they had started with. I negotiated the price down from $20/sheet to $15, hooked up the trailer, and made the 2 trips to collect 50 sheets. My plan was to use the sheets to insulate the floor of the house from underneath in the crawlspace, but that plan was abandoned once the plumbing and ducting was put in. It would have been a huge job to custom-cut each sheet to fit around the pipes, and it would have left many pipes below the insulation layer and susceptible to freezing unless I insulated the underpinning walls, as well. So, after speaking with my insulation expert, Mr. McAfee, and being advised to simply insulate just the interior face of the underpinning, I had to make a new plan.

I re-hired the guys who had done the drywall work in the house to come out and finish the underpinning and then apply the foam. They did a good job in a short amount of time, which was a relief to me. I had been closely watching the weather forecasts fearing that a freeze would cause a disaster with frozen/bursting pipes under the house. But, it got done. Once the crawlspace was closed in, I put our remote thermometer under the house, perched on a drianpipe on the North end where I expect it will be coldest. So far, it has been consistently reporting 60 degrees F. I know we are losing some heat through the floor, but I can always add insulation later to help keep that loss to a minimum.

Now, what to do with the left-over 35 sheets of foam insulation? Not only were they an eyesore, but they were being stored outside where degradation was taking its toll. For some reason, the chickens enjoyed pecking at the exposed edges, and some other type of birds were tunneling into the foam for housing. (Talk about a plush, high-rise apartment!) I put an ad on craigslist, and the next evening a guy named Darcy was on his way down from Nashville. I helped him load his pickup, and away he went. As he drove away with the pile of pink listing to one side, I was overcome with a feeling of elation - not only because there was no monetary loss on the deal, but because I was reminded of how anxious I had been when I got on the Interstate pulling a trailer with a 5-foot stack of foam on it. And this time it wasn't me doing it. Darcy emailed me the next morning to let me know that he had made it home without event, and he wrote that he didn't take a full breath between leaving our place and making it home. Good deal.

C A B I N E T Z I L L A !

Custom Made ''built-in'' Cabinet made by Terry Jernigan of Custom Woodcrafters in Pulaski, TN
Click for large image

The cabinet is in!  We managed to wrangle it into place.  It's perfect.  The color is perfect.  Now, to find someone to do the stained glass inserts and get it full of stuff!

You can see four counter-height boards that pull out like drawers, I’m calling them “cookie boards” because when the Bed & Bistro is open for business, I can pull them out and set out cookies, with lemonade, sweet tea and coffee...or whatever other munchies I want to put out, so I don’t have to use floor space for an additional table.

Posting this for friends and family to see...  I'll post the whole story later, so check back!

ALSO!!!  Lots more photos uploaded at

Today I learned: No matter how much you measure, if there is a sawsall in proximity, it will be used.

Not finished yet, but getting closer every day!

We finally got around to installing the flooring tonight.  We got half the dining room done before Kelly passed out.

There are many big changes are afoot, besides the flooring! [insert rimshot here]  Kelly hired Dewaine and Randy, the two guys who did our drywall, to help close in the base of the house.  This will not only help insulate the pipes and ducts, (as well as to keep critters from living under the house) but kelly also had the idea to create some storage between the 6x6 piers by installing suspended floor using joist hangers.  Now he's got a handy little tool shed under the house... essentially free storage.

We've also had a visit from the lovely and talented Tim Harris and his band of merry men (well, Dave's merry, but Danny's just the silent type). They spent Thursday and Friday morning here installing our board-and-batten siding. They've got a couple more days to go.

If you know anyone at OSHA, don't show them this photo.
The color is a vague greenish hue right now, as it's just the natural wood, and it needs to 'cure' in open air for about 6 months before we can stain it.  Kelly joked that Tim has to come back when he's all done and paint LOWE'S all over the sides again, so we'll recognize our house when we come up the driveway.

OOH, speaking of the driveway, we got a whole bunch of new gravel to fill in the ruts left from the big trucks that came to plow down the trees, dig the holes for the pier footings, pour the concrete into those holes, install the septic tank, roof trusses, and everything else.

Finally, if all goes as planned, Terry will be coming over on Monday to install my giant pass-thru cabinet!

Things are FLYING off the to-do list. Can you believe it!?!?!?!?!??!

and speaking of flying...  :-(  we've  had a warm spell since 11/1, which means a new batch of wasps and an enormous hatch of beetles.  They look like ladybugs, of all different patterns of spots. Some are solid orange, but some are so spotted they look completely black.  I asked the woman at the bank how long they last, and she said it's a few weeks before they're all gone.  and then... swear... she was absolutely GLEEFUL when she told me, "...and they BITE!"    delightful.  Since the house hasn't been fully sealed up, as we didn't know if Tim would be removing & replacing the doors in the process of adding the siding, so they manage to get inside. Kelly and I have been taking turns getting rid of them by scooping/flicking them into jars of soapy water.  I really hate bugs... so this is a HUGE deal. Every little tickle i feel on my skin makes me swat at it or flick at it. Creepycrawlies are everywhere.

Also with regard to flying...  tomorrow Kelly leaves for another couple weeks in Los Angeles. I'll be driving him to the airport (90 minutes) then turning around and driving right back home (90 minutes).  That's a lot of driving to go nowhere.  If he had a chauffeured  van, it would cost him $100 each way, but I don't get a cent, nor do i get reimbursed for gas!   :-P  

I've got a few gigs while he's gone, but besides that I'll be working on the website for Mockingbird Acres, creating some more marketing materials for my Personal Chef business and find out if I can get my foot in the door with the Viking school, or teach classes through a store that sells cooking tools & equipment for the at-home gourmet. Maybe I'll spend a little time pursuing partnerships for the restaurant:  I want to go hang out at the feed store and find out who's raising what, and see if they'll sell me some of their locally-raised meat.  It's hard to know if it's too soon to do that, but better sooner than later.

I made some French vanilla ice cream for Kelly tonight, to celebrate the installation of our flooring.  Maybe I'll go wake him up and feed him some... or maybe I'll just have some myself!

Today I learned: when you're making ice cream, a little bit of pink sea salt makes it taste really, really good!

we're installing our flooring!

Not THE most fun way to spend a Saturday night... but I'm also making ice cream to celebrate the occasion.

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