Repurposing on the Homestead

Y’all know I like junk, and I’m all about using what I have to make do.

Well, ever since we moved here four years ago (after I recovered from my accident), I’ve wanted a spot out in the detached garage to work on repurposing projects that were either too big, or too dirty to bring into the house.  At the same time, I had an idea for creating a table that would rotate, using some stuff we had out in the barn.

Well, about a month ago, we finally got the garage cleaned out enough for me to have my spot.  Since then, had been been moving stuff out there, and realized again, that I really needed a table. From the other times Ed and I (and Number One Son) had discussed it, I also knew that I needed a piece of plywood to join the two pieces from the barn. Extra plywood is not in the budget right now.

Well, a couple days ago, I was doing something totally unrelated in the house (I don’t even remember what it was), when suddenly, I remembered I had a piece of plywood that would probably work. To be honest, when something hits me like that, I’m not taking credit. That has to be the Lord.   Anyway, I used to do cake decorating many years ago, and I used pieces of plywood as supports for larger cakes. I knew I still had one left, I just had to remember where I put it. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find, and I showed it to Ed to see if he thought it would work. He did.

I think it was later that day that he and I went to the barn to gather the other materials. One was a round table top, and the other was the base from a swivel bar stool.  The table top was from a bunch of stuff that was given away after a yard sale. The bar stool base was here when we moved in.

Anyway, putting the whole thing together took about 15 minutes and didn’t cost us anything. We already had the necessary screws too.  I should say that the table top is actually particle board, so I don’t expect it to last forever, but it will do for what I need for now, and I’m thankful for it.

IMG_0777

Ed attaching the plywood to the table top

Looking at what remains of stenciled lettering on the plywood that I used for a cake base, I remembered where it came from. It’s from a sign that was made for a cub scouting event when my boys were in cub scouts, so it’s probably about twenty-two years old.  I got the board not too long after that. I stopped doing cakes like that about 19 years ago. Yeah, I don’t throw much away.

IMG_0776

close up of the plywood

Here is a picture of the bar stool base. You’ll notice the bee hive supers in the back ground. Ed had painted them and they were drying.  Further back in the picture are some old computers that Bam Bam is taking apart.  I’ll probably get whats left when he gets what he wants out of  them.

IMG_0778

bar stool base

There are holes in the base for screwing on the seat that will work perfectly for screwing it onto the table.

IMG_0779

See the holes at the ends of the cross bars?

IMG_0780

attaching the base. Notice the vitamin bottle on the work bench next to the table top? Those are great for keeping small screws.

IMG_0783

All done!

I have to tell you that I kept wondering about the pictures I was taking in the garage. It seemed like they were a little out of focus, or light was coming from someplace that I wasn’t accounting for. However, after taking pictures this morning, I realized what it was. There was something on the lens (Duh). Probably honey from the pictures I took out at the hives last week.

Here’s a picture of the table that I took this morning. I’ve been using it for about a week now.  It’s all ready for the next repurposing project!

IMG_0790

Ready to play!

Next week, Ed will bring you more about our bees. We should have our honey harvest done by then too. We’re also working on posts about the chickens and their new coop, and I’m working on some stuff for the “homestead kitchen”.

Come back and see us!

Connie

Advertisements

Endangered Skill 8: Making Do With What You Have

Much of what we have talked about in this series of Eight Endangered Skills can be summed up with the phrase “making do”. It means using what you have to meet your needs. When the people we know as the pioneers made their way across this country in covered wagons, they built their homes in places where there were no stores, and the neighbors were miles away. All they had was what they brought with them in that wagon, and what they could get from the land around them. They had to make do with what was available to them. Learning how to do that was often a matter of life and death.

Those lessons were passed down to their children, and in many cases, forgotten when life got easier. Many of our our grandparents and great-grandparents relearned them from living through the Great Depression. Again, those lessons have largely been forgotten. We really need to work on reeducating ourselves.

Today, for most of us, especially here in America, it is pretty easy to just go buy what we need. Even if we can’t get it today, we’ll be able to on pay day, right? Well, what if we couldn’t? What if there was no money to go to the store, and there wasn’t going to be any soon? Worse yet, what if there was no store to go to even if we had money? Then what do we do? Well, no, we’re not living that scenario now, and we may not any time soon, but I wouldn’t want to wait until we are, to figure out what I might need to do to survive.

While money is available, at its simplest, making do means spending frugally, and living within your means. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Get out of debt and stay out. If you don’t NEED it, don’t buy it. Just in case some of you need a refresher on needs and wants, let’s put it this way: You need to eat, you don’t need to eat ice cream. You may want to eat ice cream, but you don’t need it. Seriously think about your wants and needs. Do you need new shoes now, or do you just want a new pair. Can you fix what you have? If not then by all means, go buy it, but be a smart shopper and look for real value. That might even mean spending a little more for something that will last a lot longer. Buy the best you can afford, but make sure you can afford it. Buying “cheap” can really cost in the long run. There is an old saying that goes “you get what you pay for”, and it’s true.

Closely related to spending frugally is to take good care of what you have. Make sure you eat that healthy food that you bought. Having to throw out food because it spoiled before we ate it is super frustrating for me. It’s like pouring money down the drain, or into the compost pile. Buy the best food you can afford, or better yet, learn to grow it, preserve it and cook it yourself. Yes, that might mean spending some money initially, but you will save much more in the long run. Take good care of your belongings. Put tools away when you’re finished with them instead of leaving them somewhere where they might be lost, or ruined (like out in the yard where they can be rained on or run over!). I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Let me stop here and say that Ed and I are just as guilty as anyone else about this. We try to be good stewards of what God’s given us, but we don’t always succeed. When we don’t, we try to learn from our mistakes and do better next time. We still have a long way to go, but we’re working on it.

One of Ed’s favorite phrases that he picked up in the Army is “improvise, adapt, and overcome”. That is the next part of making do. If you don’t have it, and can’t buy it, you need to use what you have. Many cooks know how to make “emergency substitutions” of missing ingredients. How do you make substitutions for other ingredients you might not have? You use ingredients you do have. You can learn to substitute what you don’t have with something you do in just about any situation. One of my friends told me once about someone using the soles of old shoes to replace broken hinges on a screen door.

My dad says that when he needs something, he makes it. What he is saying is that when he can’t get what he needs, he makes something that will work from what he already has. In order for that to work though, he must have stuff to work with. You have no idea how much stuff he has , but we’ll get to that in a bit.

In order to make do with what you have, you need to have something to make do with. So, the first thing you need to do is think before you throw something away. Ask yourself if that item might be used for some other purpose. If it might, hang on to it. Now before some of you freak out on me, I’m not suggesting that you never throw anything away. There are some things that need to be thrown out, but probably not near as much as you might think. We live in a throw away society, and it’s to our detriment.

Yes, you can take keeping stuff to the extreme. (You can take anything to an unhealthy extreme). I have to make myself purge my supply of junk on occasion before it takes over the house, the garage and the barn, but the thing is that when I need to improvise, I can usually find something that will work. My grandpa (Mom’s dad) was the same way, and he went overboard with what he kept, but he was very, very good at improvising.

There are many advantages to this type of making do. One is that we save money.  Another is that we learn to be creative. Once you start exercising that creative muscle, you’ll be amazed at how well you can improvise. A third is that we start to be appreciative of what we have.  The more we appreciate what we have, the less we need something more.

In addition to hanging onto some “trash”, you also need to think about learning how to repair what breaks, instead of throwing it away and buying a new one. We’ve already talked about this in another endangered skills post.  This also includes learning how to darn socks, sew on buttons, patch clothes, etc. Then when those clothes really do wear out, you can use the rags for other purposes, like rag dolls, rag rugs, or just cleaning rags.

IMG_0664

Last winter I made this rag rug for Bam Bam’s room in the basement. It’s made from old flannel sheets, and it’s great for keeping his feet off that cold basement floor.

You could even take it further and learn about appliances and electronics. Not only might you be able to repair things yourself, you could gain an understanding of how the parts work together, and what else might work instead. Bam Bam is really good at that. If you have an aptitude for that kind of thing, you might even build yourself a side business from it. Bartering is always a good way to make do. You trade something you have, or a skill you posses for something you need.

Back to my dad. He was on his own, for the most part, from the time he was about 13, and he learned early how to make do with what he had. Still functionally illiterate, everything he has learned came by watching, listening, and asking questions. He repaired shoes, dug ditches, ran construction equipment and built silos. For many years he worked in what he calls “salvage and demolition”. He and his partner tore down old buildings by hand. Sometimes, he was told he could have whatever was left in the building. In addition to that, he brought home anything from the building that was salvageable. Any time he sees something on the side of the road, he brings it home. He rebuilt an entire house from salvaged materials, and sold it. Last summer, Ed, Chicken Girl and I went to visit my dad in Georgia. It was the first time I had been there in 20 years. It hadn’t really changed that much, there was just more stuff.

He has a workshop down the hill from the house, and then he has other storage buildings that for the most part, aren’t buildings. They are things people wanted rid of, and he was happy to take them off their hands.

IMG_0074

This picture was taken from the car port near the house. The house down the hill is actually Dad’s workshop.  This is the tip of the iceberg.

IMG_0079

Closer to the work shop. Past the school bus, you can see some trailers. I’ts all used for storage

I took a lot of video. This is just a small sample so you can get the idea. My editing skills aren’t the greatest, and this is a free version of editing software, so, like I said earlier, you get what you pay for. The first part of the video is inside his workshop, the last part is inside one of this many containers. This one has hardware. He has others with antiques, light fixtures, electronics, books, lumber and probably just about anything else you can imagine. I mainly wanted to show you some of the things he has made. Oh, and Dad’s language can be a little coarse so, just be forewarned.

Yeah Dad is the extreme. If you think it’s overwhelming in the video, you should see it in person. I don’t know if you could hear the video all that well, especially in his workshop where the monster fan was running, but everything he showed us, he found either inside a building he was tearing down, in the trash by the side of the road, or someone gave it to him. He keeps it all. If the right buyer comes along, he sells it. If not, he just keeps it until he can make use of it. Oh, and every building on the place has it’s own hammer, screwdriver, pliers, etc., just in case he needs it.

For the rest of us, making do is really a mind set. You have to change how you think. Challenge yourself. How many ways can you make do? Let us know in the comments here, or on our Facebook page.

Connie

Other posts in the Endangered Skills series

Endangered Skill #1: Shoe Repair

Endangered Skill #2: Black Smith

Endangered Skill #3: Small Appliance Repair

Endangered Skill #4: Reading the Weather

Endangered Skills Number 5: Orienteering Part 1

Endangered Skills Number 5: Orienteering Part 2

Endangered Skill #6: Foraging

Endangered Skill 7: Making Your Own Entertainment, Part 1, Musical Instruments

Endangered Skill #7 Making Your Own Entertainment, part 2: Homemade Toys

Endangered Skill #3: Small Appliance Repair

My dad tells stories about his older brother taking apart toasters, blenders, etc, putting them back together and having them work better, even with a few “leftover” parts. I’m not sure if that’s completely accurate, but I do know that my uncle was really good at fixing things. My dad isn’t too shabby at it either. He’s good at making what he needs out of what he has too, but that’s another blog post.

As a kid and young adult, I remember visiting repair shops where toasters, blenders, and other small appliances were repaired. Sometimes those places fixed TV’s and VCR’s too. I haven’t seen a place like that in a long time. I did an internet search to see if any of those places still exist. A few do, like this one that, at least for awhile, had a blog too.

I found one repair shop that seems to deal with large appliances, but had advice for small appliance repair. They said “Most small appliance repairs are simple so many people generally try and fix them instead of calling a repair person”. You can read the rest of that article here.

I don’t know that most people really do try and fix it themselves. I think they throw it away and buy a new one, because that’s how most of us do things now. That’s what I did for a long time. Sometimes I still do it. Sometimes things aren’t designed to be fixed either, but that’s another blog post too.

My next stop was YouTube. I’ve been part of at least two discussions in the last few weeks where someone said, “You can learn how to do anything on Youtube!” I don’t know if that’s true, but I know that Ed and I both have learned how to do things by using YouTube videos.  I use it as a home school supplement too. I will offer one little piece of advice about that, however. You might want to look at a few different videos, because the one you start with may leave out an important step, (or loosen bolts/screws ahead of time) and not tell you.

Anyway, I searched YouTube for “small appliance repair” and found some great tutorials. I really liked Adam DIY, and watched several of his videos.

I tried to insert his “how to repair a broken toaster” video here, but it keeps showing up as “how to clean a table saw blade”.   I tried another video on his channel, and it did the same.  The table saw video is the first one on the list, and for some reason that is the only one that will play embedded here. Here is the link to the toaster video.

This video from comeinhandynow, is good too, but it’s dealing with a more complicated problem.

Have you ever tried to fix a small appliance?

How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments below.

Connie

Endangered Skill #1: Shoe Repair

We need shoes. Many of us don’t want shoes, but we have resigned ourselves to the necessity. We don’t want to be barefoot outside when it’s 10 degrees and snowing. Others, like the infamous Imelda Marcos, and my Grandma Elvera, want shoes for every occasion. Grandma had to have matching belts too, but that’s another story.

Shoes used to be made by hand. One of my favorite fairy tales is the one about the Shoemaker and the Elves. In the story, a poor shoemaker has only enough leather to make one more pair of shoes. He carefully cuts out the leather pieces, and leaves them out over night, intending to sew them the next morning. When he awakens, he finds the shoes already finished. You can read the rest of the story here.

Just out of curiosity, I got on YouTube and entered “shoe makers” in the search box. There were 89,30 results! Maybe shoe making and shoe repair are not as endangered as we thought. Still, they are not nearly as common as they used to be, and if the skill isn’t passed along, it could be lost in a generation. This is a nice video from the Victoria and Albert museum showing the making of a pair of shoes.

Most of us do not buy our shoes from the shoe maker. We get them at Walmart, or Payless, or some similar store. When they wear out, we go buy a new pair. Most of our shoes are mass produced, and the manufacturers don’t intend for us to get them repaired when they wear out. They expect us to buy more.

That’s not to say that you can’t find well made shoes that last; you can, but you will have to pay more than many of us can reasonably afford. Every day shoes used to cost more, relative to the income of the time, and people wanted them to last as long as possible. That’s why most towns had shoe repair, or cobbler, shops. Shoe repair shops do still exist, but often, the cost of fixing a pair of shoes may be more than the shoes are worth.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t repair our shoes when we can, especially, if its a job we can do ourselves. So, no I have never repaired my own shoes, but I do wear them until there is nothing left. I’m hard to fit, so when I find a pair that does, I want to keep it as long as possible.

IMG_1959 (2)

One of the two pairs of combat boots I was issued when I entered basic training in 1981. I was supposed to switch back and forth between the two pairs, but I didn’t. This pair used to be kept highly spit shined and on display. The other pair is long gone. I would still wear these, but my calves are too fat now!  No, those are not the original laces.

When I was in the Army, back in the early 80’s, I bought a pair of cowboy boots at the Post Exchange. I paid fifty dollars for them. For me, at the time, that was a lot of money. I loved those boots, and I kept them for probably eight years. The only reason they lasted that long was because my dad fixed them every time I went to see him. Both boots were resoled and reheeled, and he even stitched the faux leather, in the back of the ankle, where it had worn through. I wore them all the time. They were like an old friend. I hated to give them up, but finally, there was nothing left to fix. There is probably a picture of them somewhere. If I find one, I’ll post it on our Facebook page.

Another YouTube search, this time for “shoe repair”, brought 353,000 results. Many of those were made by professional cobblers, so I searched “DIY shoe repair”: 376,000 results. This was the first result. I have to admit, I like this guy!

Even if you don’t want to go through all that, take a look at the other tutorials available. The next time I have a pair of shoes that need mending, I’m going to see what I can do. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In the meanwhile, you can always try making your own shoes. This was Ed’s first attempt at making moccasins for me a few years ago. Not bad for a first attempt, and I know he learned some things in the process. He really needs to get back into that. Oh, the beadwork was mine. I needed more practice too!

IMG_1961

The moccasins Ed made for me.

 

I guess the thing is to keep trying.

Connie

An Interesting Week

Last week, we were feeling a little bit of a financial pinch, and I really didn’t want to spend anything more than I absolutely had to. Well, we ran out of dish soap, and were on our way to being out of laundry soap. I didn’t want to use what little cash I had for that, in case we needed something really important, like feminine hygiene products or toilet paper. I draw the line at DIY’ing either of those!

I had, however, made laundry soap before with limited success, so I googled a recipe for that  and one for dish soap. I had everything I needed in one form or another, except for washing soda. I did have baking soda though, and I knew I had read somewhere that you could change one to the other, so I went back to Google.

Once I found what I needed, I decided to sneak in a chemistry lesson, so I told Kat to look up the difference between baking and washing soda, as well as how to change one to the other. Surprisingly, she did it without complaining.

Making washing soda is easy. You can learn how here. Basically, all you do is bake baking soda in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. There is a slight change in color and a definite change in texture.

IMG_1656

Fresh baked washing soda

Then we used the newly formed washing soda in the recipes we found for laundry and dish soap. The dish soap recipe that I used did not work out well for me, so I will keep experimenting in that department and let you know what I find out.

The laundry soap, on the other hand, turned out great, and seems to work pretty well. I have not used it on Ed’s uniforms yet, but it did fine with the rest of the laundry. You can find the recipe here.  You grate soap (I used Ivory), and then mix it with Borax and washing soda, and put in the food processor until its a fine powder. I used about 2 tablespoons per load. It’s a lot easier and a lot less mess than trying to make liquid laundry soap.

IMG_1657

grated soap

IMG_1659

Before processing

IMG_1660

After. Notice the layer of dust. We let that settle for awhile before we opened it. Don’t need to breath soap dust.

Over the weekend, the dogs decided they would start playing “find the hole under the fence” again, giving Ed fits for about three days. Since they haven’t got out since Tuesday, I think he solved the problem.  He is still working on new living arrangements for the chickens, but I’ll let him tell you about that.

IMG_1670

Hanging out in the house while Ed fixes the fence . Notice the cats on the table above. Bookworm is annoyed, but think Captain is asleep

During all that, I discovered what I thought might be a spider bite on my back between my shoulder blades. I couldn’t see it with out mirror and I certainly couldn’t reach it. I enlisted Ed and Kat’s help for a few days, but finally gave in an went to the doctor on Monday. It’s an abscess..We don’t know how, and we don’t know why. She gave me a shot in the rear, put me on antibiotics, and told me to come back Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Ed planned to check the bee hives. He hadn’t had a chance to take a good look at them in about ten days, so he was kind of anxious to  check on them. When he went out just to look, the saw this.

IMG_1669

A ball of bees under the pallet the hive sits on. The usually don’t do that.

Then he came back in and called our friends at Crooked Hill. Tammie told him he needed to see what was going on inside the hive, which is what he already planned to do. So he donned his bee suit,  started his smoker and went to visit the bees. As I usually do, I went too, staying on the far side of the fence. From there, I can usually get pretty good pictures and stay off the bee’s radar. I said usually.

Since the Sparta hive had the strange activity, he started there first. All I can say is wow! The hive is crammed full of bees, brood, and honey!

IMG_1687

One frame from Sparta hive

Even with the smoke, they seemed especially agitated, and when I realized I was starting to get some attention, I walked away. When I got back to the chicken pens, they left me. A few minutes later, Ed walked over to the fence and asked me to bring him the camera. Big mistake. Suddenly I had a lot of bee attention. As I started moving away again I felt the first sting on my face, and knew I might be in trouble.  There is a an old metal washtub sitting out there near the black berries, and it was half full of rain water. I had noticed it earlier and decided that might be my best chance of freeing myself from the bees. I hit the ground and dunked my head in the tub, using my hands to splash water up on myself. Once I was pretty sure, was free of them, I went to the house and told Kat to get the plantain oil we made last fall. I know I had at least five stings. One on my face, two on my head and two (maybe three) on my arm. Ed came in a few minutes later to check on me. He got stung three times through the bee suit, but he doesn’t have the reaction I do to things like that. The plantain oil did it’s job, but I took some allergy medicine just in case.

The stings on my face and head swelled a little, but were nearly gone in a few hours. The ones on my head hurt the worst, but I think that was because they were right underneath where my glasses rest. The area on my arm got red and hot. You should have seen my doctor’s face when I went back to see her about the abscess and she saw my arm. Poor woman. She offered to give me a shot for that too, but I told her I thought I was ok. The abscess is nearly  gone.

Today, I had my pre-op appointment for my foot surgery next week. It will be an outpatient procedure so I’ll get to come home the same day. Ed’s kind of stressing about how he’s going to get me out of the car and into the house, but I think it will be fine. We went ahead and rented the knee scooter, so I could practice with it. I think I’ll be ok.

I told you it was an interesting week.

Things have calmed down a little now, although Ed is making plans for harvesting some honey. I’m sure he’ll be posting all about that next week.

Connie

 

My Side of the Fence

Well, of the fence story anyway.

On a group Facebook page, I began a lengthy post by saying,
“Nothing like those incidents and accidents that show you where your gaps are “.

It’s true. Although I have slowly and surely learned about different herbs and their healing properties, I found myself seriously lacking in knowledge and skill when dealing with animal emergencies.

The weekend before Meeko went over the fence, I came home from dropping Kat off at church for a youth meeting, to find Loki bleeding. When I brought him into the house, I saw that the tip of his ear had been ripped in half. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I knew I had to get that bleeding stopped.

My first thought was yarrow. Its the absolute best for stopping bleeding…when the bleeder is relatively still. It doesn’t work nearly as well on a 30 lb ball of fire that is slinging his head away from me every time I try to touch it. I finally got enough plastered on to at least slow down the flow.

Because I didn’t want to leave him in the house alone, I took Loki with me when I went to get Katherine, praying the whole time that he didn’t start bleeding again in the car.

When Katherine got in, I explained the situation and warned her that the kitchen looked like a crime scene because there was blood everywhere! Once we got back in the house, the bleeding started again, and thus began the two hour ordeal of trying several different methods to stop the bleeding and bandage the ear. Finally, Kat got in the tub, wrapped herself around Loki, and held his head while I wrapped gauze covered antibiotic ointment around his ear, folded his ear over the top of his head, and wrapped his whole head in a self sticking bandage.

IMG_1392

Bandage number one

That worked until the next day. Round three involved James holding him in the tub, Kat holding his head, and me applying various things to his ear, until in utter frustration, I covered the tear once more in antibiotic covered gauze and wrapped his ear in duct tape! That held for three days. His ear isn’t pretty, but it seems to be healing.

IMG_1466

Unless you look closely, you really can’t even tell those marks aren’t just dirt or something.

IMG_1467

This side is a different story, but it still looks much better than it did two weeks ago.

It was during those three days that Ed and James worked on the fence and we began to play, “Where did they get out?” with the big dogs. On Thursday, it was already nearly dark when they got out. Ed and James were both working, and I couldn’t tell where they breached the fence. I couldn’t just put them back out there, so I had no choice but to bring them into the house for the night.

So, I had a 72 lb lab mix, a 62 lb lab mix, and 30 lb dachshund/husky mix and three cats in my house. Let the circus begin! Libby decided rather quickly that she did not like Loki jumping at her and trying to lick her face. Her lessons are short and to the point. He still doesn’t bother her much.

Anyway, the next morning, we thought we had found where they got out and made a temporary fix. Katherine and I headed for Independence for a day of girl time and Christmas shopping. As Ed told you, he picked up more fencing posts before he went to work.

When we got home, it was dark. I told Katherine to put the chickens up, and then we would unload the car. I wanted to go check on the big dogs. Since my car lights didn’t catch two pairs of eyes at the corner of the fence, I wanted to make sure they were still inside. In the dark, I could make out Libby’s form, but I didn’t see Meeko. I called for him, but he didn’t come. I shouted to Katherine that he was out and we would need to go look for him.

She was still with the chickens but called back to me that she thought she could see him along the back fence. She got to him first, and told me he was hurt. He was just outside the fence, near the big log.

IMG_1429

A daytime shot of the big log from inside the fence. This is where we think he went over.

He was whining, and carrying his left foot off the ground. Using the lights from our cell phones, we tried to see what was wrong. I couldn’t find any blood, but he was obviously hurt. I thought it was probably too far to try and get him to the house, but I thought I might be able to get him back in with Libby. I took hold of his collar and we very slowly went around to the gate. I pulled a dog house and the food and water bowl where he could reach it, and went back to the house to get my head lamp. More light really didn’t tell me much, but I was afraid he had broken something and was seriously hurt.

Over the next few hours, I talked to Ed a few times and went back out to check on Meeko a few times too. In between, I was combing the internet, looking for something I had that I could give to him for pain. I didn’t have much luck. Maybe I just wasn’t asking the right question.

Ed told you the rest of the story. We have now finished the first week with him in the house, and to be honest, he has done pretty well. He is a sweet natured dog, and he just wants to be with us. Like Ed said, getting hit with that cone is an experience, especially from behind! I think he and Loki have come to somewhat of an understanding. Loki can lick Meeko’s face until Meeko growls and then the game is over.

IMG_1472

I just need to lick this one spot…

After I shared the experience on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information, advice, sympathy and empathy I received from the homesteading community. That is one thing I love about homesteaders and similarly minded people. Everyone is willing to help and share information.

So what did I learn in all that? I learned that I don’t know nearly enough about animal care. I learned that you can give dogs Benadryl for sedation (1 mg per lb of dog weight). I seriously wish I had known that when I was working on Loki’s ear. I have learned some wormers and other vaccinations are available at feed stores. When I was a kid, my mom raised collies and we always gave all our own shots. I thought that was no longer available, but I’m going to look into it.

I learned that raw honey on a wound has healing properties, and that flour will stop bleeding too. I learned that I need to get a copy of the Merck Veterinary Manual. It’s pricey, so it will have to go on my wish list.

Remember in Old Yeller when Mama sewed Yeller up after the hogs got him? I’m thinking I need to learn how to do that too.

For most of my life I dealt with veterinarians that took payment arrangements because the important thing was taking care of the animal. I’ve learned that is no longer the case, so I need to be able to drop several hundred dollars at a moment’s notice or learn to do some things my self. I learned that I am not the only one feeling that frustration. I just don’t know what we can do about it.

Connie

Proper Pallet Preparation (I could not resist)

You see them all the time. People building three story homes complete with in ground pool, billiard room, three car garage and tennis court that are built entirely out of pallets. You see the shelves, beds, fences, dining room tables, circular stairways and scale models of Old Ironsides all built with pallets and the question that is at the very head of most all slippery slopes comes niggling into your mind.

How hard could it be anyway?

Alexander, before he was the great, Cole Younger riding through North Field the first time, and Eve staring at the first Golden Delicious all ask themselves: how hard could it be anyway?

The question really was only a matter of idle curiosity until it met opportunity. The manager of the local Sprouts market offered me as many pallets as I cared to carry off. In two trips, I carried off a half dozen conventional pallets and one shelf like pallet that is now supporting Connie’s outdoor flowers that are wintering in our living room.

This is the shelf like pallet I found and, with no alteration, now sits in the Living Room for Connie's flowers

This is the shelf like pallet I found and, with no alteration, now sits in the Living Room for Connie’s flowers

I am still working on the cold frame and I decide I am going to disassemble a pallet to provide the wood I need for that. I have the pallets. I have a claw hammer and a nail puller, so what could go wrong? Find below the lessons learned from my first pallet disassembling:

Pallets before

Pallets before

Pallets after

Pallets after

1. No, I did not impale myself on a nail, but I did decide after looking at the pallets themselves that anyone doing this might want to know the date of his or her last tetanus shot. Mine was two years ago, when I did step on a nail at the old house, and woke up some six hours later with an infected foot. Note: nurse friendly will ask you one time when you had your last tetanus shot. If you say you do not know, start pulling down your trousers: here it comes.
2. Pallets are made to carry heavy loads being lifted with a pallet jack or forklift. They are designed to take a lot of abuse. Pallets are generally assembled with nail guns by workers who do not scrimp on the nails. Some pallets only have real nails in three of the boards, one on each end and one in the middle. The rest of the boards are attached with staples. The good news is the stapled boards are easier to pull; the bad news is that the nail guy, feeling cheated, uses more and longer nails.
3. So I go to work on my first pallet. So as not to leave you in horrible suspense, I did get enough wood to do what I wanted to do on the cold frame. The rest of the story is that it was hard.
4. It took hours to pull the pallet apart; I broke and rendered useless almost half of the boards on the pallet. Okay, useless is an over statement. I burn wood in my den so they are not useless but you get my point.

Disassembling five more pallets that represented 20 to 25 man hours of labor to produce an equal number of usable boards and kindling, did not look like such a good idea. What did all these guys who built covered bridges with pallet lumber know that I did not?

Next, I bought a full sized pry bar at the local farm store and worked on the next pallet with it. The results were only marginally better, and my bad shoulder was fast catching up with my worse shoulder in the pain department. I needed to do something else.

While we are still sad that the Library at Alexandria was burned, we do have the modern equivalent at our disposal. Google led me to You Tube. If you need to perform a kitchen table heart transplant, You Tube has a video for it. On You Tube I found a number of videos on the subject of pallet disassembly. My method incorporated the theory seen in this one.

I did not use a brick or a concrete block because I did not have them. I did have a number of the 4 X 4 inch blocks used in building pallets (I had just taken two apart). I had a small piece of 2 X 4 inch wood that I could attach to the other block (God bless duct tape), and extend it to half a foot. Then I used another of the 4 X 4 blocks and my four pound hammer.

IMG_1344

My basic pallet busting set-up. That and a pair of good durable work gloves.

I would set the 6 inch block under one of the boards near the place it is nailed or, better yet, stapled in, then I would put the other block on the board next to it to protect it from damage and I would hit that 4 inch block with my 4 pound hammer. After I had loosened that end, I would move to the middle and repeat the process. The last attached point was fairly easy to pry loose.

This is what happens when you do it right.

This is what happens when you do it right.

This is your set up. Note please, you will loose board even doing this. Wood is soft, nails and hammers are hard.

This is your set up. Note please, you will lose boards even doing this. Wood is soft, nails and hammers are hard.

IMG_1349

When you are doing the center go to the far side of the center support so your force is against the nails not the board. It cost me another board to learn that, you get it for free.

Using this method I took two pallets apart in a little under an hour, saved more than ¾ of the wood and could walk and function when I was done. All told, a vast improvement.

another view of a good set up.

another view of a good set up.

So now I am becoming a fairly adept pallet disassembler. The next trick is going to be actually building something out of pallets. Let’s see how that works out.

For those of you who noticed, yes it is raining in that picture and no, I am not that invested in pallet busting that I do it in the rain. Connie read this and said she would not understand without pictures. And I am always one for clarity.

May God Bless,

EdIMG_1354

Run, Run, Run!

Seems like all we did this week was run.

We made two 100 mile round trips to Liberty. and one 140 mile round trip to Independence this week, for doctor’s appointments and other personal business. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done on the homestead.

However, we did find a supplier for free wood pallets and other cool stuff from a store in Liberty. Look what we brought home yesterday!

wood frame with pallets in the background.

wood frame with pallets in the background.

Since we still don’t have the cold frame finished, Ed is thinking about using part of one of the pallets to frame the windows. Lord willing, his next two days off (Monday and Tuesday), will be “stay at home and catch up on projects” days.

Even with all the running, we did manage to get some school done. Most of what we did this week was literature. Since she was having to do a lot of sitting and waiting, I made her take books with her. She was not happy, but she did it. Today we started some Shakespeare, as well as reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” . Next week will have some “catch up on school” days as well.

The days that Ed worked, I got a few projects finished. I got some goldenrod picked and then I hung all my herbs out in the garage to dry.

goldenrod

goldenrod

drying herbs

drying herbs

I started drying them this way a few years ago, when we lived in Independence. I had a bumper crop of herbs and needed to get them all harvested before a forecasted frost. I crammed everything I could get into paper grocery sacks and stuck them on a shelf in the back of the house. Time got away from me and I didn’t get anything done with them. A few months later, I opened the bags, expecting to find rotted plant matter. What I found was perfectly dried herbs. I’ve been drying them that way ever since. The challenge this year was finding a place to hang the bags. I thought about the basement, but its too damp. I finally settled on the garage. I would have suspended them from the rafters, but I didn’t have any way to reach that high.

I also finished my first fall decorating project.

maple syrup bottle candle holders

maple syrup bottle candle holders

It’s the same concept as the blue ones I did awhile back. These are maple syrup bottles. I coated the inside with a shade of acryllic paint called “nutmeg”. Since the little handles are solid glass, I covered them with hemp rope. The leaves on the front are real maple leaves from the trees in our front yard. I coated them in about a ton of Mod Podge, to make them stay on. Then I tied on the raffia bows. I think they turned out well. The candles were too big for the bottles, so I had to whittle them down a little to make them fit. I guess that is as good a reason as any for learning to make my own candles!

Of course, on the days that Ed worked, we still had school, and Katherine still had to read. Here she is reading Les Miserables. Bookworm is reading along.

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Kat and Bookworm reading Le Mis

Ed is working on a series of posts about our critters, but I have to say something about Bookworm here. She is Captain’s daughter, from her first and only litter. At our last house, she practically lived outside. Now, she won’t go out unless we make her, and then she climbs the front door screen, yelling at us to let her back in. She divides her time between Katherine’s room and the tables in front of the picture window in the front room. I’m not sure what she was  thinking here. Maybe she thought she looked better in the pot than the avocado tree did.  That tree is tougher than it looks. It stood right back up when I made Bookworm move.

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Bookworm in the avocado pot

Our weather has been typical for Missouri fall. Two temperate days, one hot day, and then a “but I don’t want to turn on the furnace yet” day, and then back to a temperate day. We are getting very close to our average first frost dates, so I would really like to get some things finished outside soon. I also need to bring in some potted plants and herbs from the front yard. Then I’ll have to work on some interior lighting.

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Connie

Writing 101 Day 3: Treasure

On Day three of Writing 101, we were given a list of words and told to choose one. I chose the word “treasure”.

The expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has been around in one form or another for a long time, probably because of the truth of the concept. It basically means that what one person finds useless, another might find valuable.

I like junk. If I see something “free” on the side of the road, I have to at least slow down and take a closer look. I have done some excavating in the old burn pile on our place, and found quite a few treasures. When he found a small, old tractor or lawn mower tire in one of the junk piles left on the place, my son told Ed, “You know, Mom is going to want this.” He was right, and I think I have an idea of what to do with it. I’ll share it with you when it’s finished. I keep tin cans, toilet paper tubes, glass containers, bottle caps and whatever else I think might be useful. I think I probably told you about the time I picked up a used windshield wiper turned it at an angle and told Ed; “Look honey, it’s an eyebrow!” He just calmly said, “No baby, it’s a windshield wiper.” Its taken some time, but he is starting to come around. Here are some pictures of some of my repurposed junk.

We found this in the side of the road a few years ago.

We found this in the side of the road a few years ago.

same dresser  painted and decorated with ribbon and scrapbook paper

same dresser painted and decorated with ribbon and scrapbook paper. The bottom drawer needed some work, so Ed has it in the garage

rub made from old sheets

rug made from old sheets

tin man, dog and flower

tin man, dog and flower

God tends to favor one man’s trash too. The scripture is full of examples of the Lord choosing the most unlikely, least qualified individual to serve His purposes. Jesus himself was the “stone the builders rejected” who became “the cornerstone”(Psalm 118:22, Matt 21:42, Eph 2:20, 1 Pet 2:6). I take great comfort in knowing that God sees the hidden beauty, the buried treasure in us; just like I see in a old piece of junk along the side of the road.

Connie

Cleaning Up

There were going to be pictures with this post, honestly there were, but by the time I realized I hadn’t taken them, it was dark. “That’s ok, “ I thought, I’ll just take them in the morning, and post then. It sounds like a great idea, except that it is raining buckets. So, forgive me for the lack of pictures, I’ll post some when the rain stops.

Saturday, I decided that the house and yard needed some serious attention so every thing else could wait.

Katherine and I painted our yard art additions, until we ran out of paint. I have two old tires and two wooden bushel baskets with the bottoms gone. I painted them and put the baskets inside the tires. We also painted an old bicycle. I’m thinking about turning the basket/tire combinations into fairy gardens. I was going to put the bicycle out with the red feather morning glory, but the ground isn’t level enough to support it.

My little tin man lost and arm, so he’ll need surgery soon. I need to build another one too. Our former pastor from our old church asked me if I would build one and donate it for the Buckner Mayor’s Christmas Tree auction. I told him I would, so I need to get on it.

Back to the house: The second task was Katherine’s room. Organization is not one of her strengths. It’s really not one of mine either, but I’ve taught myself as I’ve grown older. She just needs to figure out what works for her. To help her not be so overwhelmed, we took a lot of stuff out of her room. She has her furniture (although I took a small table and plastic drawers out), and the stuff she uses every day. Of course, we left the books on the bookshelves, and the knickknacks that are on the recessed shelves, because they aren’t going anywhere. They just keep the Beta company. We dusted, emptied out drawers full of stuff that she had forgotten she even had. She likes the openness of the room, and she also likes the “ambiance” (her word, not mine) that comes from having a thicker curtain hung that keeps more sunlight out. And what is this new curtain, you ask? It’s the top sheet from her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sheet set. She never uses it and it always ends up on the floor, so I thought, “Why not?”

She has her laptop, her Kindle, her violin, her bow, and her drawing supplies. When she decides she wants something else, we will come up with a plan for storing it so that she can keep track of it. The down side to all this is that all the stuff we took out of her room is in my living room, along with all the stuff I pulled out of my craft closets. There is just a path through the living room. It will probably be like that until I can get the Shelf Elf (Ed) to build me some shelves. I would do it myself, but that is a skill I don’t have.

Ed will be off Monday and Tuesday, and has promised me a blog post, so I hope you will hear from him soon. In the meanwhile, I’m taking a couple more classes from Blogging U, starting on Monday, with Writing 101. Some of what you see over the next few weeks may seem like it doesn’t belong on a homesteading blog, but please bear with me, and go along on this little side trip. In the meanwhile, lift me up to the Lord for really good time management skills, because I am going to need it!

Oh! One more thing. Ed and I finished the Whole 30. I lost 8 lbs, and Ed lost 20! The weight loss is exciting, but the way we both feel is the true reward! We’re going to stay with it.

Connie