Homemade Fountain Supplies Found

I have been on this mission to make an indoor fountain.  I have stopped in at thrift stores every time I end up in town, hoping to find something that I can take home as possible fountain material.  This weekend I hit the jackpot.    I visited all the stores  that have seasonal garden centers.   Summer is over and I was on the look out for clearance, now that the outdoor season is on its way out in Montana.  I found a submersible pump and a clay planter on clearance.   I added to that three pieces of slate, some waterproof goop, epoxy and sealer.  I got it all for less than I might pay for this size fountain retail.

fountain-supplies

I first took the clear silicone and filled the drain hole in my flower pot.   I left it sit a couple days to cure.  The recommend you use gloves.   I opt for the one use sack on the hand trick.    The one thing that you will notice is that my pot is unglazed and the silicone discolored the pot.   I expected this, but it let me know how much of a color change was possible if I got stuff where I did not want it on my pot.  I like the lighter look and want to keep the chocolate brown.

Many of your choices for your fountain may have holes in the bottom.   It is possible to fill them.

Many of your choices for your fountain may have holes in the bottom. It is possible to fill them.

Then my next job was to make my slate fit in my pot.   Lots of folks said use a tile saw, which I have and could use, but  I  choose the method that would give me a more rustic look.   The hammer.   I learned a couple of things.   Don’t hurry.  I will repeat that do NOT hurry.    You really need to work in 1/8 to 1/4 increments fully supported bellow what you are not working with.   Slate has layers.  If you insist on the hammer method be prepared to work with what you get. As you can see from the pictures I once got in a hurry and and did not follow the 1/4 rule and I lost a big chunk.   I will be fine in the end, but it required me to revamp my design.

slate

I’ve got some more to do to get that slate to fit into the clay pot.   So I will leave you with this for now.   Watch for the report on what comes next  next.

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Evolution of the New Cat

2petsIt seems hardly possible that our new cat has been here for just two months.   She has become a wonderful member of our family.

Most notable to us is that she is so young.    It seems so funny to say she is so young acting at 10 going on 11, but when your last one was over 20, ten is young.   She loves to play with crumpled tissue paper, watch the birds, and hunt bugs.

She is social, not that our last cat wasn’t but when you are over 20 for a cat your favorite life chore is sleeping.   Corabelle makes her rounds each day.   She spends part of each morning following the sunbeam around the living   room. When the sun finally moves from the south to the west window she heads to my office and to say “hi.”   Once my desk has been fully inspected she heads to her favorite hidey hole until my husband gets home from work.  Each evening she spends her evening sitting on laps while we read and stalking the bugs that are attracted by the lamps.

As important for her to find her place with us it was important for her to find her place with our rescue dog as well.   He is a bit of a pill.       I highly doubt she and Harley will ever be the same kind of friends that our first cat and dog, often sleeping together.   They are both middle aged and it is looking up.   Just the other day I found both the cat and the dog sleeping on the love seat at the same time.

Yep another rescue animal has settled in.

Using Forgotten Talents – Designing a Window Dressing

I have been working on designing new window dressings for our living room.   I am not sure why we have lived here for nearly 13 years and not had curtains yet.    We let the blinds down at sunset and raise them as the sun comes up in the morning.   Softening the look of naked windows has never been a high priority.   It makes it easier to pull this kind of stunt this when you have no neighbors.   Only if you have strong field glasses and are determined pervert are you going to know what goes on in our house.

I had lots of helpers as I thought about how to best approach this project.

I had lots of helpers as I thought about how to best approach this project.

Recently our window coverings failed and the manufacturer no longer makes that design.    It meant that we were going to get completely new window covering in the living room.   I chose Roman shades this time.   Some how that made it seem like it was time to make some window dressings for these new shades.

I knew what I wanted, but also knew that nothing ready made would really work for windows the size ours are.   We have two different sized, over-sized windows in our living room.     I have designed curtains from scratch before and learned to let some one else design the curves when possible.   I purchased two  patterns at the local Joann’s each with some of the elements I wanted.    One had jabot and one had swags.   I wanted some pleats but the pleats in neither  patterns were  going to work so I was going to have to do the math to get that right. The pattern was designed for a window 36 inches wide, ours was 81 inches.     Adjustments were in order, serious adjustments.

I then got my 40% off coupon and headed to Joann’s again, this time for a bolt of true-grid.   For those of you unfamiliar with tru-grid, it is a lightweight poly/pellon type  fabric with one inch grid all over it.   I always use it when making window coverings or other home dec items.   It has enough body to allow me try it out like an old-fashion muslin pattern.   I like it better than muslin  because the grid allows me to keep things square and in alignment.   It also is transparent enough that I can fold a pattern for a window in half and make sure that the right and left  sides are symmetrical.   I have taped things together when I need to slip a additional piece in when my math has been wrong. .   I have stapled pleats before  to try out a look and then pulled them out to cut the actual fabric when I knew I had it right.

Pieces from two different patterns, tru-grid, pattern weights and a ruler.

Pieces from two different patterns, tru-grid, pattern weights and a ruler.

The first window pattern is underway.   I added three swags, with the middle one center in the large window.   I have tested the symmetry and have somehow gotten my jabots out of sorts.   That needs to be resolved before I move on.      I have left room for the pleats but haven’t yet decided if I am going to do them as innies or outies.   The stapler will let me get a better feel for that.

The second smaller  window is going to just be two swags with a jabot on each end.   I am hoping that I can just pull out the middle swag and make a few adjustments in the pleats and let ‘er roll.

I share this with you not because you likely care about my windows, but to inspire you not be afraid to try your own creative window coverings.   I don’t recommend that your first project be the living room, but if you can use a sewing machine you can likely make a window dressing.   Maybe a guest room, or your home office would make a great first project.    There are lots of patterns out there.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.   Tru-grid doesn’t have to be bought  by the bolt, but it makes that trial window covering a great way to figure out really how much of that window fabric you need and if your idea is going to work out as you see it.  Fabric is expensive and it saves lots of heartache.   Be inspired.  Be creative

Waste Not Want Not.

This week I am on the road for work.   On Sunday I took stock of what was in my refrigerator that Ranger Sir would not use while I was gone. In general that is an easy question, vegetables.   He does not turn up his nose at eating them if I fix them, but they are not on his top ten list of things he would take to a deserted island.

I was now looking to solutions that would prevent waste.    Here is what I came up with:

  • Pattypan squash became  two mini loaves of zucchini bread.  One to keep and one for the freezer.
  • Bananas became 3 mini loaves of oat bran bread.  One to keep and two  for the freezer.
  •  cauliflower and broccoli were blanched and went to the freezer for soup this winter
  • mango, pears and plums went on the dehydrator for my next granola.
  • I threw the last of the yogurt in the strainer.   He will used strained yogurt in place of sour cream on potatoes.

He started the week  with a relatively  empty refrigerator that goes perfection with toast cheese, tomato soup, crock pot dinner and whatever else his heart desires.   He had two quick breads to satisfy his sweet tooth.

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and attack your problems differently.

Reflecting on Changes

Lately I have been noticing lots of changes in myself.   I spent the morning reflecting on that.  Looking out the window thinking and letting my mind wander.

change-web

I came to realize that I am being more true myself lately.   Withdrawing from that which prevents that, and moving toward that which allows me to surface.

My lifetime friend and her husband recently visited.   It was wonderful to see her and connect with her in person.  It is a wonderful kind of friendship that I only have a few of.   She is one of the very few people I can freely be myself with.  We spent time talking not so much catching up but talking about ourselves and our futures; what we are doing that brings us joy and what we should be doing more of.

I have come to realize that this visit broke the dam of being what I thought I needed to be and allowed me to move toward what I want to be.   I am sort of a crazy, creative, risk taking, free-spirit, earth mama  who remembers the days of being very short of money.    It makes for an oxymoron sort of way of looking a life.   As much as I yearn for and feel best when I am functioning on the wild child right-side of my brain,  I am  one who understands that you need a job for money, and money for shelter and food.   So there is a piece of left brain that does indeed work and overrides the right side, because I like to eat and don’t want to be homeless.   Sometimes that left side goes crazy with craving to provide that stability that I get bogged down.  They can both co-exist, work and play well together in my life.   I just need to help find that balance.

You spend roughly 1/3 of your day in bed, 1/3 working (likely more than that), and the rest is your time.

I can’t change the amount of time I spend in bed too much, my body likes sleep.  Most of us need a certain amount of sleep for good health.

The amount of time we spend at work used to be eight hours a day and now for most folks the number is moving up as we let work creep more in to our personal lives.   It is hard for all of us as we need money to pay the bills.   For most of us that is jobs. Times are hard and if you have a job you feel lucky.   Often time we let jobs become us, define us  because we spend so much of our life at our jobs.  Been there, done that and not going back.  For some becoming one with the job works, Steve Jobs famous quote makes me think he found it.   For most of the rest of us it is just a facet of our life.   If we are lucky we like our job and co-workers.   In reality though there is a certain amount of protocol that we abide to when working, because it is what is expected while we are at work.   Most of our co-workers we do not socialize with in our off hours, not that they are not nice people, just not much in common besides your job.   So for your workday you spend most of your time being a good worker bee, which may not have much in common with you, besides your amazing skill set that your employer utilizes.

What I can change is how I utilize my free time.   Maybe free time isn’t the right word for it.  It is a precious commodity and it is mine.   To be used as I see fit.  I don’t need to justify what I do with that time.   None of us should.   How many times have we been enjoying an activity when we say I should…..you fill in the blank.   And if you don’t do the should what will happen??   Is there really a dire consequence of not doing the should and staying in the moment of the activity we are enjoying?   If not, I challenge you to do more of what you are enjoying and do less of the should.   So moving forward I am going to share more of the wild-child, earth mamma creative moments.   Maybe they will inspire you to do more of what you enjoy but have been missing.

Who Is Staying and Who is going

I have made a decision on who I am keeping and who is going from my flock for the winter.   Here is what I have decided.

Barred Rock – Going because she is from the 2011 flock.   She is getting on the far side for age.  She is a good layer but in the interest of flock rotation it is time for her to go.

Dark Brahma – Going because she is from the 2012 year and she isn’t a great layer.   The dark brahmas have not been as larger as other brahmas in the past.    They have gone broody and molted the first fall.   If she molts again in fall there will be no eggs until spring.   This is a breed I don’t intend to repeat.

Austrolorp – Going   She has never been the kind of performer that you expect from this breed.   I kept on thinking she would get better but hasn’t.  This is a breed I don’t seem be able to get a good one.   I no longer intend to try and get one.

Speckled Sussex (2) – one stays and one goes.   They both will stay if we change our mind on the Jaehorn.   They are good layers.   They lay late and start early. It is just that there are birds from this year so they have a longer rotational life that forces one of these out.

California Leghorn – Going because her comb is too big for a Montana winter in my coop.

Silver Laced Wyandotte – Going because she has severe scoliosis.   Though she is doing well right now but  I would hate to be forced to deal with problems caused by this in the middle of the winter.  Experience with this problem, says don’t take her into the winter.

Buff Orpington – Staying.    She is a large bird from this flock and seems to be laying well.

Buff Brahma – Staying.   A favorite breed for us.   We are going to see what she will do if she stays for the winter

Easter Egger Staying  We  have had mixed results.   We are going to see what happens if we keep her.

Norwegian Jaehorn – Staying – We are torn the most with this one.   She is the lowest on the pecking order, and not sure when they are forced to hang out more together in the winter how this will all play out.   Because she is for Norway and should be winter hearty we so want to keep her.   We may flip on this before butcher day.

Buckeye – Staying.   She has a cushion comb, and seems to be a great layer.  She is a rock star forager and a fairly calm bird.

 

There are a couple of things that could change this.

  • Death of a bird
  • A bird goes broody or into a molt.   In that case the bird would move to the going list.   Either one this late in the season, would mean an egg hiatus until next spring.
  • I waiver on the Jaehorn.   Neither one of us are sure keeping her is the right thing.

Winter Plans for All Chicken Wranglers.

There is snow in the forecast for the high country this weekend.   It does not mean I expect snow yet.   I live high, but not that high.  What it does mean for me is I need to stop pondering winter for my chickens and take action.  It means I need to get my flock down to my  winter size.

howmany

I have a coop that is ideal for six chickens over the winter.    It is a clean uninsulated building that is large enough space wise for six chickens.   Chickens need a certain amount personal space, aka square feet of floor space.  Too little and they become mean girls and pecking, bullying and fighting ensues.   Too much space and the chickens body heat will not keep they won’t generate enough heat to keep the worst of the cold out.   Coop size is a really fine art in places where there is a long cold winter.   Chickens worst enemy in winter is frostbite, and they are their own worst enemy for that.   Every time a chicken exhales it is moist.   Moisture is one of those things that helps frostbite set in.  So you are looking for a coop that is vented sufficiently to let that moisture out and keep the warmth in.   It sounds like an oxymoron.   It is a lot of reading, planning and then you personal trial and error to get it right.   After all these years I know six is my ideal number.

Knowing the number is one thing, but knowing who to keep and who must go is another.   Things that plan into that are age.   I like to have a bird in the freezer before a third winter.  Any longer than that even ground for chicken salad is a stretch.   Another consideration is will they winter well physically?   I am always trying new breeds and some surprise me in their qualities.   This year the California Leghorn was one of them.   She has the largest comb I have ever had on a bird.   It is way too large for her to fare well in a Montana winter.   She is a regular layer of nice sized eggs, which normally makes her a candidate for winter, but I do not do frostbite if I can avoid it.   She will have to go.    Lastly I look at  how well do I think they will lay in the short days of winter.     I look closely at how their feathers look for signs of moulting, broodiness and it their egg production is slowing down.   Some of the decisions are easy and clear.   Some of it  is sort of a crap shoot, play it by the seat of your pants thing.

California Leghorn

California Leghorn

I hate this time when hand is forced and I must get  down to such a small number.   I love having eggs to give away.   But I also know that if I dally too long I may end up with more birds than I can reasonably handle.   Keeping an extra two in the coop requires all sorts of extra adjustments and time on my part to keep my flock healthy and happy.   I have done that and swore to never do it again.    The other thing is to be butchering out there when it is cold, and everything is much more miserable that it needed to be if I had not delayed.   So this week the report card will be in and I will be picking my six for the winter of 2013.