Friday, April 28, 2006

Fresh-cut grass....the bestest smell that ever there was

V and I finally knuckled under and bought a garden tractor. We really wanted a Kubota with attachment capabilities, but that will have to wait a few years, so we decided to get a Huskee from Tractor Supply Company. It's not the highest of the high-end garden tractors, but it'll do until we can afford the orange! We already mowed the whole 4 acres with it, and it did a great job. The pasture takes a loooong time. At least it seems like it takes a loooong time because there's nothing to break it up. You know, on the regular yard there's an outhouse to steer around, several trees, the chicken suite, etc. Not that it's a full-fledged slalom course or anything, but there's a bit more excitement to be had than out in the pasture.

And now, some of my favorite smells:
--fresh-cut grass
--sawdust (not kidding, I love it!)
--sun-dried laundry of any kind

How's that for random??!!?!? :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

SWEET! It's a chicken suite! Or, life on the farm as we know it.

V and I spent an idyllic weekend on our mini farm, doing mostly farm chores. The first thing we did was add to our chicken run to give the ladies a bit more space to flap, scratch, and peck. It just so happens that we have a portable dog run--a really nice, heavy-duty brass one that pins down into the ground. We thought it might work as an additional little pasture for the little gals...and though it took lots of creative thought along with some sweat and more than one scraped knuckle, we managed to make it work, and the ladies love it! They can really stretch out if they want, and there's about 3X the grass to nibble on. Even I never realized just how much fun having chickens would be!

Project #2 was mowing the lawn with our brand spanking new garden tractor. It's got a 54" deck to make mowing 4 acres a tad shorter, at least. So far, so good, although the hills are really scary. Those will take some getting used to (unless we manage to plant them up before mowing time rolls around again). Eeek.

Project #3 was to mix up some lime putty, but project #4 kind of took precedent.

Project #4 was dinner! BBQed chicken on the grill and HOMEMADE ICE CREAM and HOT FUDGE. Ohmygosh, what a lovely way to finish off the day! Then we went inside, watched West Wing, and hit the hay as tired little farmer wannabes. What a fun weekend.

It's time for lime, baby! But why doesn't anyone have it?

I'm ready to buy some quicklime so I can slake it and make lime putty for plaster and mortar repairs. Only problem is, no one seems to sell it! Our local masonry supply shop had Type S hydrated lime, which will do in a pinch, but I'd really like to use traditional methods and materials, which means buying limestone and burning, then slaking it, or at least buying quicklime and slaking it. No dice, my friends! Now, I know the guys down at Virginia Lime Works (, who do amazing work, sell lime putty and such, but Virginia's a mighty long way away. Mississippi Lime Company also sells it--but again, kind of far away. Plus (at the risk of sounding like a whiney restoration brat), I want to do it myself!

If money were no object, I'd open a store that had salvage as well as all sorts of traditional building materials--hand planes, lime and/or premixed lime putty, good quality graining tools and pigments, you name it! Of course, I'm probably the only person who'd shop at my own store...that could be problematic.

It's just frustrating to have the desire but to have such a difficult time finding the materials!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Plaster, windows, and mortar, oh my!

I was at the Traditional Building Conference in Chicago last week/weekend. It's good to stay up on the latest wisdom about restoration, and checking out the new technology is always a hoot. This year was fabulous. I attended seminars on lime mortars in cold climates (appropriate), plaster adhesives for plaster that has lost its keys, window restoration, sympathetic additions, traditional decorative graining tools and techniques, and a whole bunch of other incredible cool subjects. I'm such a restoration geek, I know it. Who else gets excited to learn about plaster adhesives? Besides all the other restoration geeks at the conference right alongside me, that is. :) I made some new friends, learned a LOT, and will be trying some new tricks that I picked up along the way. All in all, a very successful trip!

Probably one of the coolest sessions was the graining seminar. A delightful Scotsman who is beyond talented took us through his process for replicating burled maple, birdseye maple, walnut, and tiger oak. When he was finished (and these were just quick-and-dirty samples) one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between his painted versions and the real deal. He mixes his own paints with beer (not kidding), water, pigments, sometimes linseed oil, and other traditional materials. And whoaNELLIE the results are amazing! I can hardly wait to practice, although I'm sure my clumsy attempts will be sad at best. Still, it'd be a very cool thing to learn.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The ladies are HERE!

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I have excellent reasons.

1) I've been out of town for the last several days on a combo business/personal fun trip to Chicago...more on that later.

2) The chickens are officially ensconced in their little super suite! I've already named them, of course. I'm calling the true "redheads" Mattie and Lisa, and the red/speckled black and brown hens are Fiona, Edie, and Stella. Mattie and Lisa will lay brown eggs and Fiona, Edie, and Stella will lay Easter egg colors. I'm beyond giddy with anticipation about the first egg, which we probably won't see until sometime in May.

First, a few pictures:

The bricks are to keep opossums and raccoons out until we come up with something better or more permanent.

Aren't they lovely? We have CHICKENS! :P