Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Sunday, November 17

prepping the coop for winter along with a little revamp!

Yesterday, as we worked hard to cross off some things on the never-ending To-Do List, I said to my hubby, "I really need to remember to have outdoor things wrapped up by the end of October!"  Even though the sun was shining, the wind was brisk and it was chilly. Sporting winter garb...coats, gloves, and with hoods up and earmuffs on, Hubby was cutting boards for the goat fencing, I was painting them, and together with our son we moved limbs to a woodpile that will surely be a spectacular bonfire when the time is right. 

Each fall I add a heavy tarp to the smaller section of the chicken coop run...it helps keep out wind and drifting snow, and gives the girls a place to stretch their legs during the winter storms. I add a heated waterer to the coop, and I have to tell you, this year I found a brand that I think is terrific!  Each year I use the traditional waterer and have always said there must be a better design.  The hole to refill it was so small water was always splashing as it was begin refilled. Then there's the agility test to flip it over as quickly as possible without spilling the water again...each year it's incredibly frustrating.

However; this year, I found a new design in our local feed store and I love it!  It has a large opening on the bottom for easy filling, a screw lid and handle, so I can actually fill it and carry it easily. No more spills!  It has an egg-shaped top to keep perching at bay, and a filter that's easy to remove and clean out all the pine shavings that my girls insist on kicking into the water.  Click here: to take a look...I can't recommend it enough, and no, I am not being paid to endorse it. It's simply a great reinvention of an old design!

I went down the winter check-list for the coop...

secure tarps around the smaller run

check doors/windows to make sure they close tightly
check the roof for leaks

check for cracks or holes in the coop that would let in cold air
add fresh pine shavings

secure heat lamp/test bulb*
feed tin full
extra forage cakes/scratch

heated waterer

*I know many people don't add heat to their coops, but I've found that in our area, where nighttime winter temperatures can drop into the single digits, I want to keep the girls warm. Even with our insulated coop, the open fields around it mean the wind chill can be incredibly cold. Before clamping the lamp to a ceiling beam, I make sure the wiring is in good shape and the bulb is new. I also make sure the lamp is tucked into a corner so the girls can get out from under the heat if they want to.

Now the girls (and one bachelor) will be warm & cozy when the snow flies!

Earlier this spring I did a little revamp on the coop...some paint, vintage-style signs from the feed store, a solar lantern for a little indoor light, and colorful tea towels stitched into curtains made all the difference. Here's a quick peek:


I found this old screen door in the back of the barn...it is so heavy (which means the girls will be safe) and was a perfect fit for the coop door. It was so nice to have the girls enjoy a little breeze on the hot summer days.

And so that was our week on the farm...next week I'm preparing for our daughter to come home from college for Thanksgiving break, our son's 16th (gulp) birthday, and a friend will be bringing me a prim cupboard soon that will be perfect for the "shop" I'm planning for our milk house.  Will show you that when it's here!  So excited to make plans this winter for it...remember: never stop making wishes!


Monday, November 11

cat tales...

Look at that face.
Look at those eyes.

It's way past time you met Azreal, or Azzie as he's sometimes called. Several years ago he simply showed up here on the farm, like so many other cats and dogs have over the years. I have no idea how he found us, but I am so glad he did.

He arrived not long after our family had seen The Smurfs movie in 2011, and the kids immediately named him after the funny cat from the movie.

We have decided that Azzie is a Dog-Cat.

What is a Dog-Cat?  Well, it's a name we've made up for a cat that's definitely more dog-like than cat-like.

First of all, and don't ask me how this came to be, he is housebroken. No litter box. Ever. I didn't try to housebreak him,  he's simply wired that way. When he needs to go out, he'll stand at the door just like a dog would, patiently waiting to be let out.

Secondly, he never scratches furniture...I don't know how this came to be either because it goes against every fiber of a cat's being.

When he's outside, he's doing the usual cat things...climbing trees, pouncing on leaves blowing in the wind, or simply finding a warm spot in the sunshine to nap.

But once he's inside, he's all dog...he'll find the softest blanket and knead it until he's made a perfect nest to settle into. It might be an afternoon nap or maybe he's curling up at the end of the day, but whenever he is, Azzie is very particular about his blanket...only a Vera Bradley will do. And I can't argue...they are wonderful! 

Then, when it's time to call it a night, he can be found curled up at the foot of the bed...very dog-like. Each morning, he hops off the bed, heads to the door, and it starts all over again.

While I'll never know how he came to make this his home, as I reflect on all the things I am grateful for, I would be remiss if I didn't add Azzie's name to the list...our family thinks he's absolutely wonderful!

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