Monday, 31 May 2010

Back in the Saddle

Its been a long and interesting winter. SWMBO is just as much a Mom as you could hope for, Buddy has started using more words and stringing together phrases. Chuck has developed from a kid to a preteen, and my career has taken a new path. Iris has been fully repaired by the marina, and after some haggling and haranguing, I managed to get her hull polished and new bottom paint on her. The boat went in the water a little later than last year, and I missed the first club races of the season since our launch date kept getting pushed back.

Iris was launched on Friday. Then on Saturday afternoon I sailed her up to Jackson’s Point from Cook’s Bay. It was a great sail. As I rigged the boat and set things straight aboard her, the wind was fresh and building. Power boaters at the marina were asking why I wasn’t out there, and I was hurrying myself along for fear I would miss the best conditions. Over the lake I could see kite-boarders skimming the surface as the wind pulled them along.

After spending about 2 hours prepping the boat, I was ready to go, and with a couple tugs on the starter, the outboard came to life. Iris pulled away from the dock, and the season had officially started.

By the time I reached the lake, most of the power boaters were coming in. I imagine the waves were too rough for the smaller boats, but a couple of the big boys stayed out. I carefully hoisted my jib, thinking I would sail under reduced canvas, but it seemed so mundane that I put the mainsail up almost immediately afterwards. With the old cruising sails, Iris was less than exciting to handle, and I was greeted with heavy luffing as the old sails flapped along the back foot or so of their surface. Then the wind built.

All the powerboats in Cook’s bay headed to their marinas and the only boats left out on the bay were a handful of sailboats, most sailing under main alone. Iris was happy to fly a full suit, and I was happy with her. For a little bit she heeled hard, and let the wind push her around, so I eased the mainsheet until she stood up nicely, and with all the luff worked out of the sails, we shot out of Cook’s Bay and into Lake Simcoe. For most of the sail we heeled at about 10°. Sometimes that was pushed up closer to 20°, Never did she try to round up or fight me on the rudder.

A little excitement came up on Cook's bay when a Rhodes 22 on starboard tack crossed under Iris as we flew by on port, but there was enough separation that a quick wave, and a shout hello was all that was necessary.

The trip to JP included 2 interesting surprises. First, as the wind and waves built on the crossing, the water would break over the bow, sweep up the boat, and crash down on the mainsail. Both the jib and main were soaked to the height of the reef points from waves coming up and over the boat, but the cockpit was completely dry. It was like I was in a tunnel that the water couldn’t penetrate. Eerie, but cool.

The other surprise came about 2/3rds of the way through the trip. I looked down at the GPS in my hand while on a broad reach with quartering seas and very consistent wind (a rarity for Simcoe) and the speed by GPS was over 8 knots. Maximum theoretical hull speed on a Catalina 25 is 6.31 knots. The boat has a displacement hull, and is not supposed to plane. I figured it was a blip in the GPS, so I kept an eye on the screen. The speed dropped to 6, then came back up over 8 knots, and sustained itself for about 10 minutes before dropping off, and coming up again. I would explain this away as GPS error if it only happened for a quick blip and was over, but because it was sustained, I have no idea how it was possible. Was my un-surfable boat actually surfing? Did the keel repair give me a different underwater profile? Was my rig tuned that well on my first sail? Was the wind, waves and point of sail in harmony so perfectly that I could pull this off? And finally, how do I repeat this?

It was a great first sail, and the boat feels like a friend again. Here’s to a new season and all of its possibilities!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

On the Phone

My Brother calls most weekends, seeing as he lives far away.

Yesteday, I was on the phone with him, and Buddy crawled up into the chair and onto my lap.

Buddy: 'Lo Steve? 'Lo Steve?"

Steve: Hey Buddy, what are you up to?


Friday, 28 May 2010

They followed me home.....

These ones are "my" chickens.

Easter Eggers. They lay blue & green eggs.

They are a day old in this photo, they hatched on Wednesday, May 26.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Mamarazzi

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Building The Chicken Coop

All pieces framed up, ready to put together.

Together. Ready to move onto the driveway to add the roof, & continue building. Hubby used the Lawn Tractor to drag it to the driveway.

Hubby & Chuckles heaved the roof onto the coop. It was raining when the roof was built, so it was built in the garage, then added to the coop.

Framed, built, plywooded, and loaded on the trailer, ready to be moved to the backyard.

In the backyard, after being painted.
My cousin came to visit, to help me with a large Girl Guide event. She got to help paint the coop the night before. Lucky Cousin!

ok, this is the cool part.
You can see where Daddy & Buddy are looking in the coop, with the first half of the bi-fold up. This can be lifted for ventilation.

Then, it can be lifted even more.

THEN, the bottom flips down, so that the whole thing can be hosed out as necessary.
You can see where the holes for the nesting boxes have been cut intot he sides. The nesting boxes are next on our "list of things to do."

When we built the coop, it was right after ripping out the front entryway. The 2 x 4's throughout are all recycled from that tear out. Also, a lot of the plywood was wood from around the house from other projects. the chicken wire came out of my Grandparents garage since they're moving, and the windows that will go in came from the re-store. So this project has been made with mostly "re-used" materials!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Mom24

The Geat Chicken Coop Re-location - Part Two

Again, why re-tell when my Husband has already written it all out.....

I took a couple days off to recooperate (these jokes are getting old) from the relocation project.

In that time SWMBO put a base coat of paint on the coop. During this time the chickens kept on growing so I decided to relocate the chickens to the coop regardless of its position/orientation.

The chickens were loaded into milk crates and carried them out 4 at a time to the coop, then I put a piece of wood (actually a headboard from a crib) across the ground level exits. The chickens seemed happy. Wasted the better part of an afternoon keeping an eye on them.

That night I transported them all back into the house for the night. This wasn't going to work well.

Next day I put chicken wire up on the windows and then relocated the chickens again. Covered most of the floor with dry lawn cuttings. They seemed happy, so I took out my hammer and put chicken wire up across all other potential escape routes, trapping them in. Now I could go an d do other stuff.

The chickens were in shock from the hammering, but life is full of tough times.

I hopped into the monster truck (astro van) and carefully backed it down the edge of the creekbank. Squeezing in there is always pretty tight, and I am afraid of the bank giving way under the weight of the van. I scraped along the edge of the chokecherry, and finally was wedged in close enough to get a load strap on the coop.

With the load strap on the coop, I needed to get some skis under it. We have some benches around our firepit that are made up of some oversized boards (2X12's??) from the early mesolithic period. I took a couple of them and put them under the shed. I needed the shed to both spin and slide into position, so things were looking kind of tricky. What I did was to put the boards in position such that one corner of the shed was lower than the rest of the structure. as the shed slid off the boards, that corner would dig into the soil. My hope was that the corner digging into the soft soil would build up enough resistance to the dragging motion that the shed would spin.

I peeked in the coop window and the chickens looked like they had just about recovered from my hammering and were doing OK. That was great.

Jumped into the van and eased her forward. The load strap went taught, the shed lurched forward and slid to the end of the boards, dug in to the sod, and dug a divot, then suddenly grabbed, switched direction, and spun around. When I got out of the van things were eerily quiet.

As the dust cleared, I peeked in the window of the coop, and all the chickens were huddled in a corner. I think they had thought the ride was kinda fun, like going to an amusement park.

Since everything was fine, I detached the van from the shed and carefully retraced my path along the creek. Luckily I didn't go down the bank or anything. I brought the nose of the van to the coop. A tap of the gas pedal and the van pushed the coop the rest of the way into position.

The chickens clucked and flapped their wings like they were having the time of their lives.

Now it was time to level things off. With a long steel bar and use of levers, I lifted the front of the shed and slipped in a wood block. Then I went around the back and repeated the process. Back to the front, back to the back. Putting the blocks right in the centre of the shed made it like a teeter-totter.

I think the chickens really liked it. It was like a day at the park.

Once I got the shed up high enough, I teetered it one way and slipped a cinderblock (CMU) under the corners at one end, then put some wood blocks in under the other end until I had built it up high enough that it was sitting level. YAY! Enough work for one day.

After all that work, I decided the chicks loved their new house enough to live there full-time. Somehow the water and feed had spilled in the day. Those messy chickens!! I opened the back door to clean up and put in new food and water, and the door was really hard to open. Anyway, with all the running around the chickens were doing all day they probably bumped it or something. I got the new food & water in and left things be for the night.

The Coop was up on one block at the front, and a couple pieces of wood at the back, but every guide on chickening I had read said the coop should be 12-18 inches off the ground. I figured I had better raise it up. Last night after work, I took the jack from the back of the Astro-van, and started cranking.

I think the chickens liked it best when I had one end up 2 cinderblocks high with the other end still on the ground. It was like a slide at the park!

Anyway, once I had 2 cinderblocks under each corner I realized that the roof was getting too high to build an enclosure over, so I would have to stop jacking. The coop is now in position, level, and secure. It still has no windows and no "chicken door" and no laying boxes, but it is in place, and the chickens think its lots of fun. Once I had the shed up on the cinderblocks, the back door opened properly again, so I must have fixed whatever the chickens broke when I raised up the shed and levelled it properly.

Our next steps are building the nest boxes, putting a second coat of paint on the exterior, and building an enclosure

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Great Chicken Coop Relocation

As told by my husband, who did most of the work:

Came home from work to a light rain and hooked the trailer up to the Astro Van. Backed it up to the coop and raised the coop up using the car jacks. So far so good.

Then the coop wouldn't coop-erate and go on the trailer right, but no worries, it sat on the beaver tail, and that would make it easier to offload. Besides, I only had to drive across the yard with it.

Drove down to the other driveway, where the greenhouse is, and went around it, onto the lawn. Spun tires. Spun 'em s'more. Felt the van settle down into a groove. That means its time to do something different, so I went and got the Volvo (from hell).

The Volvo (from hell) has a tow hook on the back of it, so I put a load strap around the coop, and attached it to the car. Figured I'd slide the coop off the back of the trailer, and then drag it to its final home.

The Coop slid off the trailer, did a half-gainer, and landed upside down. No damage to coop or trailer, but the bottom of the coop has no shingles, and it wasn't in the right spot, so I figgered I better flip it over and put it where it belongs.

Bear in mind the wind is blowing pretty good now and the rain is running off my ball cap so I can't see much.

In order to flip over the coop, I have to get the trailer outta the way, but its still hooked to the van, which is still stuck in the mud. The trailer is a big tandem axle flatbed, not like I can just unhook it and roll it outta there.

So with the right equipment (and cuss words) I got the van outta there, and moved the trailer about ten feet away using armstrong power. Then I got SWMBO to slip a cinderblock (CMU for the engineering crowd) under the coop while I rocked it. This made for a fulcrum that would result in an easier flip of the coop.

Pushing as hard as I could, I could get the coop to roll on to the CMU, but not flip the rest of the way back onto its feet. SWMBO came and pushed with me, and with the both of us working we managed to get it back upright, without rolling over onto the Volvo (from hell) which woulda been really bad.

With it back upright, I got into the Volvo (from hell) and dragged the coop as close to its final resting place as I dared, but it still has another 12 feet and a twist to go. If I try to drive that with the Volvo (from hell) I will end up in the creek, so I think I am waiting for the ground to get a little more solid, and then I'll use the Astro Van as a bulldozer and push the coop into place. It should slide pretty well if I get it up onto a pair of 2X4 "skis." and put a "bumper" made out of a 2"X 10" on it.

Just another day Chicken Ranching.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Taking Our Peeps for a walk

On May 1, 2010

We brought them outside in the milk crate, and brought the wire up from their brooder, to keep them contained

What the heck is that green stuff??

I'm sorry, but do you actually expect us to WALK on that??

seriously..... I ain't putting my feet out there...

peep peep peep...... where's our box go??

pecking.... this is good, they need to learn to peck for when they move outside

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Buddy's 2nd Birthday

two weekends ago, we all got together to celebrate Buddy's birthday ( a couple of weeks late, due to Easter and other commitments).

Since we have our entire front entrance and main floor bathroom ripped out, we moved the celebration to Grandma & Grandpa's house (collectively known by Buddy as "Baba," or sometimes just Ba! Ba! BaBaBa! He hasn't seemed to figure out the difference in pronunciation yet.)

Buddy wearing birthday hats with his Uncles. Buddy was not so very interested. He had to be coerced. I hear that there may have been cake? We'll give you cake if you wear a hat Buddy!

You don't want to wear a hat? That's ok, we'll just wear them then.

(this photo was snapped a few seconds after me saying "you boys know that this one is going on the blog, right?)

Uncle Stevie's Cowboy Hat

Presents? There are presents, for me?

Wow, look at that tractor!!

Buddy got lots of tractors. he likes tractors. they are his favorite.

And a lawnmower, which he proudly points to as 'his' lawnmower.

"Daddy's Tractor.......Buddy's Tractor"

More presents?

Books.... "Mommy, book? book? book Mommy?"

Play table from Mommy & Daddy, with Candy Land & Snakes & Ladders

Playing tractors with my uncles.

cake? There is cake!! I KNEW there'd be a cake Mommy!

Finally, I get to eat the cake!

Mommy baked the cake Thursday night. Buddy helped lick the spatula. And check to see if it was done. Every time the timer went off to go check it, he'd take off running for the kitchen.

Even when we were in the backyard.

Then, Friday morning, he came downstairs for breakfast.... and there was CAKE on the table. And the poor little guy just couldn't figure out why he wasn't allowed to eat any!!

Then Friday night, I iced it... and Saturday morning, Buddy got up, and went downstairs on his own... all of a sudden I heard cake! CAKE! I ran so fast down those stairs. I had visions of him pulling the whole thing down on himself. When he actually got to eat it... he was excited!!

He tried to blow his own candles out, but Mommy got a little nervous at how close his hair was coming to the flame. She blew them out quick while he was trying!

"Buddy, show me your paws"

yum yum yum.

Poor Uncle Steve... there was no room for him at the inn. He had to hobo it down the road to crash at his friend's place for the night!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Debi

Monday, 3 May 2010


Chuckles, did you get the wasp that was in your room??


Um, do you maybe want to put the flyswatter away now??

oh, ok..... do you know where I left it?

Well, I don't know where it was.... but at the moment, your brother seems to think that it makes a good bedtime buddy.

Memo to Buddy: Fly-swatters do not make good bedtime buddies. Your bear would be much more comfortable.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Raised Garden Beds

Buddy helping Daddy dig out the beds. We've used pressure treated boards to make the boxes.

"Buddy look, a bug!! You should take it and squish it!"

Mommy raking, after putting cardboard on the bottom. The cardboard helps prevent weeds from coming up through the bottom.

End of the day. Two beds in, one to go (the far one, that still has the supports sticking up. That's what holds the bed in place.)

Since then, we've flipped the last bed and sunk it in its spot, and today, added the topsoil. We can't plant until the May long weekend, which gives us time to watch for weeds, and either round up if necessary, or just weed it if there's not much.

Remember all those tomatoes & peppers that were in the windowsill?? This is their ultimate destination.