Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Just Plum Tired! Container Update - Buried (Picture Heavy)

It's taken me three days to finally get around to posting.  I have lots of things in my head for posts, but after this extra long weekend, I'm living in a fog of too much sun, and too much physical labor.

Our weekend started out Friday afternoon, anticipating the arrival of a rented bobcat.  I was told by the rental company it's not called a bobcat, it's called a skid steer.  "Bobcat" is a name brand.  Any idea why she chose to correct me?  If she knew what I was talking about, why did it matter?

As we approached the end of the delivery window, I called to find out where it was.  Yep, you guessed it, I was told it wasn't on its way, it has mechanical problems and wouldn't be available.  Now, why did I have to call to find this out?  So I pushed a bit harder to see if there was anything else she could deliver and her first response (and easiest for most people) is "sorry no". 

I proceeded to explain we had a number of people already at The Compound prepared to begin work, and without a piece of equipment all of our time and expense getting there was out the window.  Magically it seems, there was in fact another piece of equipment we could get.  It took some wrangling on their part, but we ended up with a John Deer tractor.  (Sorry Preppy, no cute girls posing in my tractor photo!)

Unfortunately, about 30 minutes before it showed up, it began to rain.  This rain along with the rain from the past week or so made for a real mess!  The delivery driver got stuck and wouldn't let us help him get out, he waited over an hour for someone to drive over with a pick up truck and pull him out.

But the guys were up to the challenge.  That container was going to get buried come hell or high water (literally)!  The thought of not getting it done and having to shovel and move dirt by hand just wasn't an option.  Besides, they could hardly wait to get on that tractor! They worked until 3am Saturday morning.  The first few hours were spent just filling in the low wet spots so we could move the tractor around.

Saturday morning the Moose and I were up by 7am and started our normal chores.  The boys followed a couple hours later, and the rest of our group showed up shortly after.  We worked until around 3pm and took a short break for lunch and a quick nap.  Then the guys were back on the tractor, moving dirt again until midnight.  Folks it took a tremendous amount of dirt for this project.  In excess of about 25 loads, from what I can figure.  Yes, some of it was spread out to make it easier to move the eqpt, but in the long run it will also help solve some of our standing water issues.

There's a bit more to do along the front of the container, but until we have the solar panel array set up, that's on hold at this point.  There is already a huge difference in temperature inside the container.  That was our goal, have a place to store reserve inventory in a temperature controlled space.

Again, we were up early Sunday morning and began work on a "house" for the air conditioning units that are inside the container.  (More on those later)  But the units stick out of course, and they can not be covered with dirt, so we built a house over the top of them.  It has also been surrounded by dirt and a thin layer on the shingled roof.  The Moose also installed a vent for the hot air to vacate the space.

They also got back on the tractor finished moving dirt and moved our mulch and wood piles.  Reworked the shooting range and backdrop a bit.  They worked with the tractor until late Sunday afternoon. 

When all was said and done, they put on 25 hours with the tractor as well as a lot of man hours moving and raking dirt by hand.  All of us are plum tired out!  But ever so glad this project, a year in the making is just about done.  Next is shelving inside, and setting up the solar panel array and control box.

So in the end, it was actually a God send that we got a tractor rather than the "skid steer".  Someone was looking out for us! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

We have a big weekend planned at The Compound, but we need dry weather.  Keep your fingers crossed!

We're renting a "bobcat" to help finish burying the container, moving and smoothing out dirt in low lying areas, hauling wood to stack, clearing some old and new property, and filling in large pot holes on the drive in.

When I put it all in writing it doesn't seem like much, but I'm hoping we can get most or all of it done!  We've plans to use the machine as much as possible.  If someone is up or can stay up, it's going to be doing something!  It's our chance to get a bucket full of stuff done as quickly and easily as possible.  The hand digging and moving of dirt in this heat is getting the best of us.

If I get my wish, we'll have a dry weekend with a slight overcast. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hog Tilling and Pest Control

Weeds are my enemy at The Compound.  I'm never one step ahead of them, and won't be until we start living there full time.  This is what my garden looks like.  A mess!  We've pulled up the weeds, only to have twice as many appear the next time.  So we're trying a new method;  Hog Tilling and Pest Control.

They do a great job of rooting up plants, eating grubs and fertilizing the area.    This is what they accomplished this weekend.  Fencing around this area is not as secure as their permanent enclosure, so we don't leave them in their except during the days when we're around.

I'm happy, they're happy..

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pregnant Pigs

Another hot humid weekend in central FL.  It was nearly unbearable.  But, very little gets in our way when completing projects.  This weekend, due to all the rain, we had nearly a foot or more of rain at The Compound in the last couple of weeks, we were shown where we've fallen short for our animals.  It was a muddy, wet mess.  Yes, pigs like muddy wallows, but they need dry ground.  It's hard to keep anything dry with that much rain, but we needed to make the effort.

The boar pen needed a larger shelter, for shade and rain protection.  The guys spent a good part of Saturday getting that up.  It was less than 30 seconds after they left the area, that young boars all found a spot and took a nice long shaded nap!

Our pregnant gilts, one in particular is really showing.  I'm guessing she's very close to delivering.  But we definitely have two in the final stages.  We built a farrowing pen last week, and finished a second this weekend.  We may need to build a third this coming weekend. 

The coolest part of my weekend;  rubbing this girls belly and feeling the little piglets moving around!  It was awesome!  She's never let me rub her belly before, but I'm thinking she's seen me with a couple of the others and figured, my belly hurts maybe this crazy lady is on to something!  She was very content.

We will also be adding additional shelter from sun and rain for the gilt enclosure.  That's for this coming weekend.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome Aboard

Looks like we picked up a few new stragglers followers.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Container update - moving dirt and painting. Pig update - farrowing pen

We started our weekend this past Friday by celebrating the boys birthday.  They're 34, and definitely not boys, but it is a term of endearment for the twins.  Besides, it's been awhile since any of us has been 34, so they are the youngest of our crowd. I tried baking them their favorite crunch cake.  I bombed apparently, it was nothing like their mother used to make them.  I hunted high and low for a recipe, found one that had 5 stars, etc.  It tasted really good, but my recipe called for coconut, theirs would have had pecans.  Anyone know of a recipe for crunch cake that includes pecans?

The Moose and I got an early start Saturday morning.  I laid down some mulch around the coop area, since it's rained so much lately, it was really wet.  So on went another layer.  Of course the girls had to get in and help scratch it all into place.  The Moose fed the pigs, which were very hungry and from the sound of it, hadn't been fed in a month of Sundays!  Then it was off to the container.

We had about 10 loads of dirt brought in and dumped next to the container. We are finally at a stage to finish getting it buried in.  The Moose spent the better part of the day, moving dirt into place. The solar panel frame is just about done, and the welding to the container should begin (as long as it doesn't rain AGAIN), this next weekend.  Miss Brenda and I finished painting the inside ceiling.  Painting above your head is a pain.  I got more paint on me than the ceiling!

The Moose has already laid down tile in the cooler floor and we just have some painting to do on the inside of it as well which shouldn't take too long.  Once that's done, I'll introduce you to a really "cool" way to refrigerate a space that won't cost an arm and a leg, and doesn't need 208v electricity which will be nearly impossible in a crap hits the fan scenario.  110v will work with our solar panel system.

Then it's on to setting up the control board for the solar panels, battery pack and shelving for foodstuff inventory.  It's been a year in the making on this project, but it's finally coming into the home stretch.

We built a farrowing pen for our gilt that I'm guessing is ready in the next month or so.  We moved her and the two others we think are also in the family way in an area just for them, so we can make sure they get enough to eat and get acclimated to a new space.  The males have been permanently moved to a "boys only" area.  One item that we've failed getting a handle on is controlling which gilt is bred when we want her to be. It's just been willy-nilly and we may have more than we actually wanted bred.  Now that the boys are gone, we'll be able to watch them closer and develop a plan for further breeding and/or the freezer.

If you get a chance swing on over to The Small Hold site.  The last few articles are about a term he's coined; "sustainers", and most recently an article that gives thought to how we're going to feed our livestock when the feed store is closed. We have quite a bit of space around our property that we can use as grazing land, especially for pigs, considering they thrive in our area.  We just need to come up with a way to move and contain them in a specific area.

No bobcat sightings this weekend.  We hope he's off watching someone else's livestock.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Unwanted Guest Lurking in the Woods

We have an unwanted guest lurking in the woods next to The Compound.   I'm guessing the chickens and pigs grab his or her attention.  He's been spotted three times in less than two weeks, on the drive into our property.  It's creepy knowing you're being watched.

We will no longer walk around unarmed or leave the chickens unattended.  We'll be double checking the fence line, coop house and roof, etc. to make sure it's all ship-shape.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

We're off to The Compound this weekend (couldn't see that one coming).  Wishing you a Happy 4th of July holiday!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to when we return.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Benefits of a Wallow

Mud wallows are necessary;

1.  To help keep them cool in hot temperatures.

If you don't provide them with one, they'll create their own!  This guy is trying to lay down in a water container.  We have another pig that actually holds down the water nipple and lets it run onto the ground to create his own mud bog. (even though we've already provided him one!)

2.  To create a barrier from insects.  Can you blame them?

3.  It's their version of SPF!  Their hair is very coarse and you can see their skin underneath.  Without their mud baths, they'd get sunburn.

I've read articles that state, they are not necessary and even unsanitary.  After watching our pigs create their own, I believe its ingrained.  Similar to hand raising chicks;  how do they know to scratch for food or dust bath if they've never been around a full grown hen?  They just know.

We dug out a specific wallow area for them and fill it with fresh water almost every day, unless it rains.  It naturally drains or soaks into the ground making it necessary.  As soon as the water gets turned on, they all make a dash for their wallow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Eviction Notice

He's being evicted!

How he actually got in here is a mystery.  He had to, not only find the place, he had to get through two electrified fences!  There's a vast amount of space in the FL swamps, so he can make his home somewhere else!