Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This blog has moved!

Hello folks,

The more things change, the more they stay the same... this blog has a new address. I've moved all the entries (but not the comments) to a new script at "Shari's Gone Country"

For those of you who are curious... here's why I've moved.

With that said, you'll find a "new look" and in a short time, even more photo options. I'm still getting the photo gallery working correctly (tech issues with the web host that are in the works).

So, join me at http://sharithomas.com ... aka Shari's Gone Country

Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:48 AM :: (1) comments

Thursday, October 11, 2007

One more "to do" project DONE!

Yeah, I know... it's been nearly a week since I last posted.

Here's why... another one of those simple, "dig a trench, lay a water line, cover it up" and you're done projects.

First, to bring you up to date... we didn't get any snow over the weekend, but it was pretty cold on Saturday. We pretty much "hid out" inside that day. I guess you could say we kind of took most of the day off, with both football and baseball games on the TV.

Sunday was more of the "get ready for winter" stuff, and that included work on the compost pile. Bev and I spent about three hours cleaning the horse pen and stalls so we'd have hot, fresh manure to add to the compost pile. When the wind came up, we declared ourselves done for the day.

Monday, I hand cut cucumbers, onions, tomatillos, green tomatos and sweet red peppers so we could can "sweet relish". Got enough for nearly 8 quarts. Yes, we can our relish by the quart since we use it so much. We managed to get the first 4 quarts done before running out of spices... and even though we'd already run to the corner store... 17 miles one way, we were content to make do with alternate spices for the next 4 quarts.

Tuesday, we spent the day getting ready for our neighbor, Ray to bring his big backhoe over for the "trench project". The first issue we always have here, is where do all these old irrigation lines go, and what happens if we cut one? Do we have a geyser?

Bev and I cleaned the big hole we'd excavated last spring. This is the one next to the chicken coop, where the first frost-free hydrant will go. In the process, we found a one-inch galvanized line (about 36 inches deep) heading somewhat north from below the nipple for the frost free. Where the hell does it go? What does it feed? We know it's a "charged line".

We tried several times to locate the line, even having Ray do a couple of "pot holes", but were unable to locate it. Oh well... we'll just have to keep an eye on any wet spots, or if we here the well pump running at odd times.

By dark Tuesday, we'd managed to dig about 25 feet of the trench. I has to be 36 inches deep to be below the frost line here. It was particularly difficult as the chicken run limited access with the backhoe... no room for the stabilizers.

Add to that we just knew there were two lines about 6 or 8 inches below the surface that we had be locate, cut and cap. Again, no idea if they were hot, or charged... or even where they came from or went. Cindy and I had both encountered them when we were trenching in the chicken run... just 8 inches from where this really deep trench was going.

We probed, we tickled the dirt with the backhoe to no avail... Those lines weren't to be found

Yesterday, we really settled in to all the hard work. This trench is 60 feet long, 36 inches deep, and better than a foot wide... dug in very sandy soil. The real "hard pan" is at about 30 inches, so that meant the backhoe really had to chew hard, and since Ray couldn't get a direct (inline) shot at the trench, it often meant he was chewing from the broadside.

That meant the trench walls would semi-collapse with each "chew" to go deeper... Enter the "three-man"... well one man, one fat woman, and one young boy... shovel crew. I gotta' tell you... I really didn't know I could do all that! I shoveled in that trench for about 5 hours, until finally we had it deep enough, and could move to the next step.

By then, Bev had come home from work... just in time to miss the shovel detail. That's ok... her job was to help Ray with the plumbing... cut all the PVC, and configure all the valves and angles.

We needed hay to insulate the lines. The worst hay was in the horse barn, so off we go with the backhoe. Now, I had two choices... walk to the horse barn in the 30 mph wind with all the dust swirling from the backhoe, or jump up on it, and ride on the fender. This old lady actually got on the backhoe and rode... both directions! No small feat when you consider all the "lead in my butt".

Ok, hay in the trench, water line laid, time to backfill. Once again, we've got the same issue... The backhoe can only get "so close" and is unable to really compact the fill. I'll be raking, and watering for weeks.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 10:16 AM :: (1) comments

Friday, October 5, 2007

It's October, and we're expecting SNOW!

Here it is, the first Friday in October, and we have a 50% chance of snow tonight. Needless to say, we've been putting things away, cleaning up the garden area, and adding both manure and mulch to protect the soil.

Yesterday brought high winds and a dust storm. I was out in it, feeding and watering the animals. You could chew the air, it was so gritty. We've had a little wind damage, which we'll repair this evening shortly before dark. The wind is forecasted to lay down a bit, and that will make it easier to put plywood panels back in place on the stable.

Tomorrow, we have to head down to the Beryl Community Center and sign up for our "care and share" boxes tomorrow. Because we're considered "low income", we get a couple of monthly food "drops". Between them and the meals from the Enterprise Senior Center, we're able to keep the food bill to a reasonable level.

Cindy will be out of work in about three weeks, so we really have to wrap up all the projects (at least the ones that cost money). That includes get the farm truck here, purchase one more frost-free hydrant and get both the chicken and sheep hydrants installed, and get the tin for at least the stable, if not the chicken coop.

After that, we'll be limited to simply paying the existing bills and barely keeping our heads above water over the winter. At least Bev will be working all winter and she has gained some extra hours as well as a raise.

Time to return to work on "The Four Country Gals", the book/blog I'm writing about how we all got together, and then got to where we are.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 11:07 AM :: (1) comments

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I've been working, not just playing!

Ok, I know... it's been way too long since I brought you up to date about things here at "The Four Country Gals"' little spread. I really do spend a fair amount of time "out and about" with the animals, and my roommates.

With excellent weather this past weekend, we worked to get as much protection up for the horses as possible. Oh, we also spent time in training with both Dakota and Dusty.

I'm working with Dakota, who really believes she's a "pocket pony". While I love her to death, I'm really working to get her out of my personal "hoola hoop" space. It's gonna take a while, since she's a real lover. Together, we're working on "back" as well as "yield your hindquarters" correctly. That means pick up your inside hind foot and cross it over in front of your other hind foot.

Cindy spent some real quality time with Dusty, and lo and behold... She actually got on him.

All by herself, she saddled him, prepared him for weight with the "jump, jump, jump" and lay across his back. He was such a perfect gentleman, she took time out to get Bev and the camera... just in case.

Here's the proof! She's up in the saddle. Looks like she really belongs there, too.

Oh, the chickens... well, they're laying up a storm, to the point that Mom has asked me to post ads for her... Farm Fresh Brown Eggs For Sale as low as $1.75/doz. We're getting anywhere from 8 to 10 eggs a day... more than any of us should eat.

Our sheep are still getting fatter. Sure wish I could tell if they're really pregnant or just getting fat. I'm giving them until October 20 before I turn Algernon (our ram) loose with the ewes. If they aren't preggie now... they will be all winter!

Yesterday afternoon we had our first "disaster" of sorts. The greenhouse blew apart. We had been aware (to the point of filing a claim against the warranty) that we had wind/sun damage to the greenhouse cover.

Earlier this week, we received a replacement cover, which we've not yet installed, as we were busy with the horses, and also waiting for the right time... gotta have little to no wind to install the cover.

Anyhow, yesterday we had a huge windstorm with gusts somewhere around 50. The greenhouse was up when I gathered eggs at 2:30pm and it was down when I went to feed at 4:45pm.

When Bev and Cindy got home, we at least stabilized what we could and laid down both end covers to prevent further damage. I feebly suggested we should maybe move things in case it rained. With a 40% chance of rain, my idea was ignored... not the smartest thing to do.

In about 2 hours, we had a series of hellacious thunderstorms roll through the valley. Lightening took out our new DSL connection for over 3 hours. We got close to a quarter inch of rain... see, I told you so!

Mom checked things over this afternoon and was very relieved to have only lost one small box of "plant food". Everything else that got wet was ok, so there's no dog house visits for any of us today.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 3:59 PM :: (1) comments

Utah or Bust… through the Rockies!

The Four Country Gals (at least two of them) are on their way from Ohio to Utah. They're pulling up stakes and moving to an as yet unseen house and acreage in rural SW Utah... the Escalante Desert Valley.

read more | digg story

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 3:55 PM :: (0) comments

Monday, October 1, 2007

Yes! Small Town Living has published my article

Over the weekend, Small Town Living, an online magazine dedicated to promoting a simpler life and small town America released their latest issue.

"Oh give me a home..." can be found on page 21 of this fantastic bi-monthly magazine.

Just so you know I'm not the only one published... you can learn how to grow winter squash... with enough to share with your neighbors. There's also some awesome recipes for Acorn Squash.

Got bats in your belfry? You don't? Maybe you should. There's a whole article on the value of having some "local bats".

If you've got the hankering to carve pumpkins, you'll find tips and ideas for creating that special face as well as ways to stay safe.

Oh, and if you love the Appalachian Trail... then you really want to grab this issue.

So, what is "Oh give me a home..." all about? I'd tell ya... but then you might get lazy and not click on the link to Small Town Living.

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Posted by Shari Thomas @ 3:54 PM :: (1) comments