I’ve lived with the pre-existing chicken run for two years. I liked the ability to let the chickens pick through the compost, but other than that I didn’t really like the run. The door was a little too low and would hit the ground whenever I tried to open it. The run was too low to easily get inside and clean it out – which meant it didn’t get cleaned as often as it should have been. It also got filled with snow this winter, and the chickens were stuck under the coop for at least a month.
I decided that, with the additional mess of ducks, I should upgrade the run this year. To make the project easier, I purchased some lumber and corrugated roofing from Home Depot and started the process of rebuilding the run. I was able to reuse some of the lumber and all of the fencing – which kept costs down.
I got the run mostly finished today. This week I’ll have to clean up the remnants of the old run (perfect for a bonfire) and clean up the fencing. I’ll also have to extend the run to cover a small section of the stream behind the house to keep the ducks entertained. Also on this summer’s project list is to redirect the gutter to dump downhill of the coop and run – hopefully also helping keep the place clean.
I left the compost bin mostly untouched – in two years or so, it will probably need to be rebuilt.
A nearly completed upgraded chicken run. The interior has 6 feet of headroom, so it will be easy for me to get in the run and clean.
Last Sunday I delivered the second toy box to Susanna’s preschool. The third box is in the shop mostly completed – hopefully I’ll get it out the door in a week or two.
Second outdoor toybox delivered.
The roof on the first box is in pretty rough shape after being exposed to the weather for the winter (as I had expected). I finally got the preschool to agree that a better roof is needed (than just cheap plywood). I’m going to put a corrugated PVC roof on the third box, and will retrofit the PVC roof to the first two boxes.
It is nice to start reclaiming my workshop from the piles of plywood that have been taking up space for the past 6+ months.
It has been a busy couple of weeks. The weather is finally warm and we can spend the weekend outside getting ready for summer.
The chickens and ducks are growing.
The chickens and ducks hiding in the corner of the coop. The ducks are only a week older than the chicks and much bigger already.
I learned that the ducks aren’t so good at doing ramps. I had opened up the bottom of the coop for the birds a couple of nights ago – they love exploring. However, the ducks love sleeping under the coop, and the chicks seem to think the ducks are their parents, so they try to sleep under the coop with the ducks. And the ducks don’t seem smart enough to figure out how to get back into the coop. It still gets cool at night and I worry that without proper feathers the chicks and ducks will get too cold away from the heat lamp. So, of course, I spent three nights climbing under the coop to collect the birds and return them to the coop.
Today I decided to close up the bottom until they are a week or two older. I was tired of crawling though the mud every night, no matter how amusing Susanna thought it was to watch me chase birds around a small cage. When they all have feathers I figure they can sleep wherever they want.
The garden is mostly planted. We have three raised beds. A couple of weeks ago, I put onions and leeks in the first bed. I’ve never tried onions or leeks, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out. The second bed is filled with strawberries, but I think I’ll be able to squeeze a couple of tomato plants into the end where the strawberries have yet to claim. I planted summer squash, winter squash, and pole beans in the middle of the third bed. Today I planted 13 of the tomato plants on the ends of that bed. If the weather supports tomorrow, I’ll plant 5 of the remaining 9 plants in the garden and Susanna will take the final 4 for her pots.
Tomato plants transplanted into the garden
More pictures from our family vacation to Cancun, Mexico last week. Just in because maybe someone isn’t sick of vacation pictures. Anyway, I’m almost done. Probably one more dump of pictures tomorrow night.
Will playing at the beach by our hotel and completely ignoring Susanna’s requests to look up for the picture.
Enjoying the beach by the hotel (picture by Benjamin).
Benjamin enjoying his drink by the beach (and not too happy to be the subject of the photograph).
On Tuesday, Will and I borrowed one of the resort’s catamarans for a short sail. Despite many hours sailing our own sailboat, a water depth of maybe 20 feet, and life jackets, Will clung to the middle of the boat for most of the trip. He said it wasn’t the same without a cockpit to sit in.
Benjamin enjoying the swimming pool at the resort.
Susanna: “Just one more picture, please.”
On Wednesday, Ben and I went on a snorkeling adventure for the morning. Here we are waiting to get underway out to the reef.
Benjamin enjoying the water at the reef on our snorkeling adventure on Wednesday.
One of the may underwater sights that Ben and I saw on our snorkeling adventure.
Benjamin swimming ahead of me at the reef.
Benjamin enjoying a break after snorkeling, before our van ride back to the hotel. “Dad, can you get me another drink, please?”
We spent the past week in Cancun, Mexico for the boys’ spring break. We took tons of pictures, and I’m sure it will take days to sort through them all. But here is the first bunch.
Susanna enjoying the view from our room at the Hotel Riu Caribe in Cancun Mexico on our first night.
Heading to dinner the first night. Of course Ben didn’t want to wait for the picture
Enjoying the shade next to the pool.
Picture of our hotel (Riu Caribe) by Benjamin Curtis
Will hanging out by the pool.
Making sand castles in the white sand on the beach in Cancun.
Ben taking a break from snorkeling.
The original mainsail.
Okay, I’m done complaining about the snow. At least until the next time it snows this spring.
I have had the O’day 22 in the water for the past two summers. The mainsail is (I believe) the original. Which makes it older than me. But not by much. And in worse shape than me (I hope).
The luff (front edge that goes along the mast) is fraying and needs a new boltrope. I think I could probably replace the boltrope – a replacement is only $2.50/foot at Sailrite. It shouldn’t be too difficult to sew the rope in a straight line. But the last time I tried to sew something in a straight line it didn’t work as well as I though. And maybe the mainsail isn’t the best thing to learn on.
Even if I fixed the boltrope, the rest of the sail is a mess. One of the seams on the luff (trailing edge) is coming apart. One or two of the battens are missing. And overall the sail is tired and stretched out and my windward performance is terrible – though, honestly, that may be due to my lack of sailing ability.
It was time to replace the mainsail. It was time to replace it two years ago. But I finally placed an order this spring. I decided to go with Peak Sails North America. I placed an order with them because they were inexpensive and allow me to spread the costs of the sail over 4 months (the sails are made after the first payment). They also had mixed reviews about how long it took for them to make the sails and for their customer service. However, I figured that the price was right and that I would have some leverage with their sail payment plan, so I placed an order on Monday.
They were pretty quick to send me an email back and send me the first bill. I hadn’t heard from them by Friday to confirm the sail size and number, so I gave them a call. Chris Stevens (Peak Sails Customer Service) picked up on the 2nd or 3rd ring, and quickly looked up my order and took the information down (sail number). He said the sail would probably go to production this week and be delivered in 3-4 weeks. It was a much better response than I had expected.
Chris explained that the production line gets backed up in May and June and could take a lot longer – people get their boats in the water in May and June and when their sails fail it is a crisis to get new sails.
So far I’m happy with the customer service at Peak Sails. They may not be the most responsive by email – but they did answer the phone and answered my questions. Hopefully the sails show up promptly and this summer I will only be able to blame my lack of sailing skill (and the boats shallow keel) when I have poor windward performance.
Spring? Are you sure it is spring?
I love waking up on spring mornings. It is wonderful to go out early in the morning and enjoy the wonderful smells of spring and snow???? WTF??? It is supposed to be spring. The vernal equinox was 9 days ago. Where is all this snow coming from?
By now, the only thing that still loves the snow is Targa. Even the boys are sick of the snow.I think Targa would like it to snow year round. Stupid dog.
Susanna’s parents are visiting from Sweden this week – they say this is their first taste of winter this year. Welcome to New England.
At least it warmed up today. Enough for a nice walk in the morning, and a fire in the fire pit by the patio. By mid-afternoon it had warmed up enough to start to feel like mid-March. Warm for all of us to sit at the patio without winter coats on and enjoy the afternoon sun.
It has been a busy couple of weeks here. The snow is starting to melt. It is warm enough for nice afternoon walks and evenings in the workshop without the kerosene heater running the whole time.
My shop assistant for the evening. He is reminding me to stay focused. On him. And to not drop boxes on his head (Sorry Tucker).
I have one toybox sitting in the shop completed awaiting delivery. It looks like the snow will melt enough this week to get the trailer out and deliver it. The final box is making progress – I can complete it by the end of this weekend if I focus on it. But of course there is a very good chance I will get distracted sometime before Sunday night.
The boat finally thawed enough for me to pump out the bilge. I’m planning on doing some small boat upgrades before launching in May. I would like to add a permanent fresh water tank and plumbing to the sink. I also want to add some cushions in the cockpit and a new cushion on the port settee.
New cushions will require sewing. Sewing required a working sewing machine. We had an old Singer in stuffed away in storage that I’ve been keeping limping along over the years. This year I replaced a drive belt and various smaller plastic parts that have fallen apart over the years. I’ll have to build a table on the second floor of the loft to sew the cushion covers. I learned that trying to cut the fabric on the dining room table just doesn’t work. And we have the space for a full 4×8 table, so why not use the space. And then to YouTube to figure out how to make cushion covers.
Time to get going on the projects so I’ll have enough completed to relax this summer!
Antique square and mortise chisel
Winter is pushing into March with a snowfall this afternoon. That on top of the frozen snow from the past month’s snow. We are starting to get a little stir crazy being stuck in the house. It even seems that Minecraft isn’t exciting Will as much today as usual.
Instead of just sitting around, we decided to head out to the flea market this morning. The boys each picked up a pocket knife (to keep in the workshop).
I found a small (6″) square for $1 and a large mortise chisel for $10. Both seemed like a good deal. The chisel was pretty sharp, and only took a few minutes on the water stones to get a good working edge. The square cleaned up to a nice patina. I have no idea if it is square. If it is, I will add it to my usable tools. If not close enough to easily correct, I’ll have to add it to the wall decoration (in the workshop – for no reason I can understand, Susanna doesn’t allow me to decorate the dining room with antique tools).
What a beautiful day. The morning started out with a spring snow. The temperature was just above freezing and the snowflakes huge. This afternoon the sun found its way out from behind the clouds and the temperatures soared into the mid-40s.
My Stanley No. 45 combination plane after making a 1/4″ rabbet on a piece of scrap pine.
The yard is still covered with nearly 2-feet of snow, but with warm temperatures I am able to keep the workshop comfortable with just a small electric heater. The kerosene heater puts out a lot of warmth, but at a cost. It is loud.
I put Pandora radio on the computer and spent the day cleaning the workshop. And throwing things away. I have way too much stuff in the shop. I didn’t get the font half of the shop cleaned, but I got the back half looking pretty good (for me). I even dug out an antique Stanley No. 45 plane and got it working – though the blade needs to be sharpened.
A reasonably clean workshop. I even vacuumed the floor. I still have more stuff than I need, but it is heading in the right direction.