Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Sh*tty Job ... but You Ought to Do It!

Welcome to Verde Farm's Farm Friend Friday which has combined with Dandelion House's Farm Girl Friday. What a great way to connect folks with similar interests. Visit their sites to find links to great stories and interesting blog posts.

I'd like to start my post by welcoming new followers! Thanks for linking to my blog. I enjoy 'meeting' new folks all over the world, what a great way to make new friends! I have been enjoying Sarah's blog, Between the Fenceposts. Sarah and her husband travel all over the country in their semi truck, with their three dogs. It is always interesting to see the pictures of where she travels and to hear about their sometimes harrowing experiences. Red Hot Ruby and Caf12457 have also become followers. I can't wait to learn more about them! LuckyBunny writes Our Forest Haven. She has all kinds of animals, including Prairie Dogs, and shares wonderful recipes!

And, now for my post.....

My manure pile is growing with each deposit, morning and night! Because the grass is greening I am limiting the boys' access to the lush, sweet, founder-inducing grasses, so they are in the paddock more hours during the day and are leaving me more piles to pick up! I need to get out and spread it and harrow it before it takes over! I have one pile that has been composting for almost 8 months. It will be perfect for our gardening chores at both the current home and our project home. Yes, it's worth carting it up to the new house to enrich the soil!

I thought you might be interested in this 'retread' from last year, in case you missed the link to it a few weeks ago:

  • Etiology of the word, sh*t: Before the advent of commercial fertilizer manure was transported by ship to help farmers enrich soil and produce better crops. It was shipped in dry bales to limit the weight the ship had to carry. But, if the manure became wet while at sea, it not only became heavier, but it would begin to ferment. A by-product of the fermentation of manure is methane gas. The gas would collect and if some hapless sole came below decks at night carrying a lantern....well, you can imagine the problem that would ensue. So, once it was determined why the explosions were occurring, bales of manure were marked, "Ship High in Transit" to remind sailors where to store the bails so that water would not begin the process of creating explosive methane gas. Thus the term S.H.I.T, a shortened form of the label, came to mean manure. (Source: Rocky Mountain Haflinger Association, Jan - March 2010 Newsletter, "Haffie Trails")
  •  Manure as Fertilizer: Manure can be used to add organic matter and nutrients to soil. The benefits to be derived from manure vary with the type of manure used and the way in which it is handled. The best manures for gardening come from ruminants. These are animals with several stomachs, such as cows, sheep and llamas. The food the ruminant eats is better digested and weed seeds are killed. The  digestive system of a horse does not kill as many weed seeds. Manure from chickens has a very high ammonia content so applying fresh poultry manure can burn your plants. Fertilizer has three main nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. When you buy commercially prepared fertilizer the container will often list three numbers, such as 21-4-8. These numbers refer to the relative amount of each of the key nutrients in the order listed. Remember the words UP, DOWN and PRETTY to remember just what the nutrients do for your plants. Nitrogen helps promote healthy, green top growth. The Phosphorus supports root growth and the Potassium helps make large, beautiful blooms. That being said, it's interesting to know that horse manure has a rating of .7-.2-.7, cow manure is 1-.7-1 and chicken manure is 1.7-2.4-1.7*. The nutrient value of fresh horse manure is pretty darn low and to get close to the nutritional rates of commercial fertilizer, you'd need to heap a ton of manure onto your lawn and garden. Not very practical and not at all pretty! In addition, I have read that using manure as fertilizer may actually deplete nitrogen in your soil, especially if you have wood shavings or sawdust mixed in with the manure. The organisms from the soil that break down the manure require extra nitrogen to break down the carbon found in the wood products. Thus, your soil may have less nitrogen than if you had not applied the manure at all. And, as mentioned above, it is the nitrogen that promotes nice, green growth, so your grass may suffer. Confusing, huh? In my opinion, the long term benefits to be gained from spreading manure outweigh the possible negative effects, if it is done correctly. The negative effects can be ameliorated by minimizing the amount of bedding that winds up in your manure, spreading no more than the recommended amount of manure and by adding additional nutrients. So, are you totally baffled yet? It gets even more complicated! Manure contains salts. Different manures contain different levels of salts. Some soils already have too much salt. Salt at certain levels is not beneficial. Therefore this may limit the amount of manure you can spread at a given time. To determine how much manure you should add to your field or garden, you need to know the current nutrient levels, including salt, of your soil.  Local extension agencies generally have a soil testing program. They also have all kinds of handy dandy charts that will explain how much manure to add, based on your test results.(* nutrient rates vary depending on whether bedding is or is not included. Source: Colorado Extension Service, "Using Manure in the Home Garden")
  • Composting Manure: If your head isn't already spinning, read on! Although composted manure loses some of its nutritional value because nutrients leach out in rain (unless compost bins are covered), it is an excellent source of organic material to add to your soil. Organic material helps hold moisture and nutrients in your soil. Ideally soil should be comprised of at least 5% organic material. I have sandy soil. The organic content is negligible so I try to add organic material when turning my garden or planting new shrubs, trees or flowers. This year some of that organic material is coming from my own compost pile. (Caution - when adding manure or compost, more is not better. In a typical garden, working in 1" of organic material to a depth of 10-12" each year is adequate. Also keep in mind that some plants do not care for rich, organic soil. Many root vegetables prefer sandy soil with less organic matter.)              Composting manure requires that you have space where a fairly large mass of manure can sit over a period of time. Ideally it helps to have at least three manure bins or piles. One that you are currently using for your fresh manure and two others that are 'cooking'. The size of the pile depends on the number of horses you have and how much bedding is included in the manure, but anything less than 3'X3'X3' will not have enough mass to compost. Each pile should be able to hold 2-4 months worth of manure. That can be a lot of sh*t stuff! If conditions are right, organisms begin to break down the manure almost immediately. Organisms are at work in your pile if it begins to heat up. I purchased an inexpensive 'instant read' thermometer that I taped to the end of a painting pole. I can poke the thermometer into the pile and read the temperature. Within a day you should find that the inside temperatures rise and begin to approach 140 degrees. If the pile does not heat up it could mean that the manure is either too wet or too dry, or that it doesn't have enough air. The pile needs to be 'turned'. The contents need to be mixed up. The contents are too dry if when you form a ball and squeeze it together it falls apart. Add a little water. If the contents are too wet, allow the pile to dry out by turning it more frequently and/or by adding dryer material. If you live in a very wet or very dry climate you may find that you need to cover your compost pile with a tarp to maintain the optimum moisture level. If the pile begins to cool it is time to turn the manure again to expose all material to oxygen which allows the microorganisms to work. Some folks layer PVC pipe with small holes in their manure piles to introduce air without the need for turning. After several months the manure will have been  transformed into lovely organic matter and will stop 'cooking'. If temperatures surpassed 140 for a period of days in two different heat up cycles, weed seeds, parasites and insect eggs or larvae will have been killed and your composted manure will make an excellent soil amendment. 
Our compost piles are dug into a small hillside, so they are protected from the drying wind to some degree. If you look closely at the pile just under the bucket, you can see steam coming from the compost as it is being turned.

This is my thermometer....a slightly bent model...that I use to measure the temperature of the composting manure. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday's What's It?

What's It?



We found this in the kitchen drawer of my hubby's Great Aunt's house. It is stainless steel. The front edges are sharp. It could cut off a finger! This gadget is 6" in length.
... we are clueless. 
We have no idea! 
Do you?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cuteness - It's In the Cards!

A few weeks ago I left a comment at Heart of a Cowgirl's blog. Heart of a Cowgirl has a delightful blog with lots of pictures of adorable bunnies and her sweet Rottweiler puppy. She also makes nifty jewelry. Cowgirl asked us to pick three cards, for a giveaway, that we thought were the cutest and would like to have if chosen as a winner. The cards are from Sue Jackson-Andre's Etsy site.  Sue is the artist and has a number of cute cards from her artwork that she sells. I loved the picture of the "Checkered Giants" because I have never seen bunnies colored that way. The cat was cute, because he is is such a typical, silly cat pose. The third card is a drawing that Sue made of Cowgirl's bunnies, Nutmeg and Patches. 

A few days later Cowgirl had her new Rottie puppy Bootsie, pick a winner.
This is the picture Cowgirl posted
showing Bootsie picking a slip of paper. 
(Just in case you couldn't figure out what you were seeing!)

 Earlier this week I had a wonderful surprise in my mailbox.
I have three beautiful cards, a sweet note from artist Sue, 
and a magnet with a picture of her bunny, Clovis.

 Thank you, Cowgirl and thank you Sue. I am so happy to have won such a 'won'derful giveaway!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Project - Week 10: Wood You Do This?

 A rose among thorns.... or a tulip among burdocks!

Tucker had a no good, very bad start to this week. He loves going to our project home, but he discovered that he is terrified of the pneumatic hammer that we are using to install the flooring. Terrified to the point that I found him in a doggie fetal position wedged between the tub and the wall in our bathroom. Poor guy. But, he loved the alternative: he got to go to day care at Camp Bow Wow! He LOVES playing with all of the dogs. 

This week we:
  • continued work in the Master Bath. The 'chocolate wall' got another coat of paint and I mortared some tile on the deck of the tub, as well as grouted it.
  • made a 'curtain' out of plastic to try to keep the pigeons out of the open end of the barn. The wire we installed previously keeps them from roosting in some spots, but they have found other niches that they like. 
  • put down wood flooring - lots of it! Last week we spent quite a bit of time planning; figuring out where to start on either side of the fireplace so that we would meet in the middle along the same line. This week things went quite smoothly. Oh, there were a few blunders here and there...cutting the wrong end of the board, etc. but it is looking great. We basically have the dining room left to do next week.
  • have a garage filled with boxes of kitchen cabinets. The cabinets will be installed next week - I am so excited!
  • put up two bird houses.
  • raked out one garden bed where we found more tulips. We also have daffodils and more crocus in our yard.  

When we left off last week, we had just completed 
the bay window in the eat-in kitchen area.
  
Tuesday - both sides now (no shot of LR, which has about 3 feet of flooring)
 

Wednesday - You might think I'm working,
but in reality, I'm praying - will it meet?

Thursday - it met!
(It doesn't look like we accomplished a lot,
but we had to do the pantry closet.
There was a lot of cutting and fussy work in there.)

Friday - ooohhh, my aching knees!

Saturday - the kitchen is finished!

Sunday - The Living Room is finished... 
well, except for one 3" strip!


Our Kitchen-To-Be

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Mmmm....Caramelized!

    I admit it. I'm a sweet freak. I have always, and will always, love sweets. Just about any kind. Even caramelized onions. Yum!
    Sadly, I think 'caramelized' doesn't work with carrots. I believe you just call these 'burned'. But, heck, they are still OK on top!

    Sorry, honey! Next time I won't get distracted reading blogs!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Pssst! Over Here!

    Pssst! Lady. Over here!

    Can Tucker come out to play with me?

    We love visiting with our neighbor's mini, Little Tyke, and his cute pasture mate, a very sweet mare who, before she was rescued, was clobbered with a baseball bat that broke her cheek.  Tucker loves Little Tyke and will break all the rules to go visit and play with him. Every morning as we head to the barn, Tucker will sneak a look at Little Tyke's pasture to see if he is out, and whether it is worth trying to make a break for it to go play!

    It is very embarrassing to try to catch Tucker when he escapes to play with the mini. Our dog trainer says I have to be more interesting than whatever it is Tucker is involved with. Well, heck! Just how can I compete with a mini?!

    Visit other Farm Friends by clicking here:  

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Room With a View

    Free Rent. 1 Bdr rustic home, in nice neighborhood. 
    Conveniently located. Needs some work. Gorgeous views.


    Honey, I'm telling you. Nice homes are in short supply this year. 
    This is kinda shabby, but it has a killer view. What do you think?

    I suppose we can handle one bedroom. 
    It'll be a little tight once the children arrive, 
    but, at least it's clean.

    Honey, I couldn't hear a word you said. 
    Let me come over to see what you are talking about.

    Here, you take a look inside.
    See what you think.

    I think it looks OK. 
    But, you're the one who has to be satisfied.
    Right, Honey?

    Heard from a distance:
    That's my house. Get out. Get out. Go away.
    Run...er, fly! She's coming after us!
    She's coming really fast. Let's get out of here.

    That's my house. I found the  house first.
    You can't have it. 
    We've got to get out of here. Look at her come. 
     It looks like she means business.

     Mine, mine, mine.
    OK. OK! We're leaving. You can have it.
    It's an ugly house, anyway.



    What's It?

    This week I've begun a new illiterative post. It's called "What's It Wednesday". I figure since we have Sunday Stills, Meet Me On Monday, Weight Loss Wednesday, etc.... why not?!

    So, here it is....

    What's It?


    Don't scroll down quite yet. Think about this and decide what you think it is. 

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

     
    Do you think you've got it?
    Need more time? You've got all the time in the world! 
    Just don't scroll down until you are ready!

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Here's a hint




    Did you say baling twine?
    Well, you are only partially correct.



    What we have here is actually...............




    Big Pippin Bazzoka Bubble Gum!!

    A few weeks ago I tied a gate open with a piece of baling twine. Pippin apparently became hungry (not unusual) and curious (not unexpected) and began chewing on the baling twine. Somehow he got it off the gate. From the looks of it, he chewed it for quite some time. I found it in his paddock. I am so thankful he didn't swallow it! No more Big Bazooka for my big guy!


    So, did you get the answer right away? What did you think it was?


    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Dinnnnerrrr!

    Hey boys! It's time for dinner. 
    (Click on pictures to 'biggify')  



    A zoomed-in photo of the boys where they were standing
    when I called. Notice Pippin's reaction.
    Pippin doesn't miss a thing, especially when it comes to food!

    Doc seems to wonder, 'What's the hurry?'

    Eeyore Doc watching to see if it is really worth leaving 
    that plush dry, hardscrabble bit of pasture.

     


    Did you say 'dinner'?!

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    The Project - Week 9: Got Wood!

    We had a visit from our Realtor this week. Since she had seen the house in its 'before' state she was more than aware of how much has been done in 9 weeks. Her oos and ahs  made me feel great! She can't wait to see it in its 'after' state! Me too!

    This week:
    • Tucker decided to 'plant' his bone in the middle of a tulip patch in the back yard. :-(     As spring comes to our area we are finding small treasures in the yard, hardy plants that have survived several years of neglect.
    • I began to tile the tub surround. We visited a discount tile center and found travertine tile that we both liked. The tub and shower will be in a walnut color. The floor will be lighter.
    • My hubby finished cutting and installing the sub-flooring that will be under the kitchen cabinets
    • I painted the 'chocolate wall' in the master bath. 
    • We began installing the wood floor. We selected a hand-scraped warm oak. We were concerned about going with too dark a color since our house has porch overhangs. Our biggest challenge is making sure that the wood in the living room and the wood in the eat-in area of the kitchen come together around the fireplace along the same line. Planning and laying out the flooring has taken us hours!
    • We replaced ceiling light fixtures on the main floor where lights were removed during sheet rock repair.
    • We got a sneak preview of our cabinets as they sent a cabinet door that wasn't ready for shipment with the rest of the order. The entire order will be delivered Tuesday evening. 
    • We made the mistake of stopping by a nearby nursery. We bought two trees that were 75% off! We now are the proud owners of a weeping larch and a red bud that will have white blossoms.

     We found this cute little crocus along the east side of the house. 
    It even had a bee in it when I went to take a picture, but Tucker
    lunged at the bee and scared it away!

    We have to tile the tub deck and get the tub back in place before the bathroom cabinets can be installed. 
    But...before we can finish the tub deck I need to tile the front of the tub, and before I can finish the deck and finish the tile in front,  we need to know exactly how the cabinets will fit in the space. It is a logistical nightmare!

    Here is one of the cabinet doors. This one is prepped for glass since the manufacturer did not have the glass I wanted. Maybe some day I'll do some stained glass work for the two doors that will have glass.

    It's a start!  This week we'll be spending a lot more time on our knees; fitting the wood, cutting end pieces and then nailing the boards down. We are fretting about the living room side and the kitchen side meeting at the right place in front of the fireplace. We will be doing some praying while on our knees!

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Sunday Stills - Canine Companions

    Our first Aussie; a rescue. Several trainers recommended that Austin be put down because he was aggressive towards humans. We adopted him (didn't have any visitors at the house for 6 months) and then learned that he suffered from epilepsy. Perhaps that is why he pretended to be so mean!  We had Austin with us for six years. We experienced many seizures, but loved his crazy antics. Sadly, Austin began bleeding internally one evening. We decided that we would not put him through exploratory surgery. We let Austin pass over the rainbow bridge in January, 2009. 



    Here is Monty; another rescue. Monty and his brother, Carlo, were discovered thrown in the marsh in coastal South Carolina. We adopted Monty from a local shelter when he was 5 months old. Our 85 pound brindle was the biggest baby around. Here Monty is asking me to chase him, his favorite game. Monty developed lymphoma. He crossed the rainbow bridge last May. He was 11 years old. I still miss this gentle guy!


    Monty really preferred to be an 'only' dog. After we lost Austin we decided that we would let Monty live out his life without competition from another canine. After losing him to lymphoma we felt the void. In June we found Tucker, an Aussie puppy. 


    Tucker at 2 months


    Tucker today - 11 months of pent-up energy!
     

    To view other canine companions, check the Sunday Stills site.

    John Laughs

    I volunteer at a therapeutic riding center. I've done this for years and have witnessed many heartwarming moments. This week brought another such moment. During a hippotherapy session (physical therapy on a horse) John laughed. He belted out a deep, extended belly laugh, several times. His laughter made us all laugh.

    As a volunteer I am not privy to any information about the clients. I don't know John's case history. But I do know that John is probably in his 50's. He does not talk, but makes some sounds. He is basically confined to a wheelchair because he can not flatten his feet. The tendons have tightened and his toe point would make a ballerina jealous!

    When John began riding a year ago he had very little core strength and found it difficult to sit upright and to keep his head upright. The helmet irritated John and he would often reach up and angrily wrest it off his head and toss it to the ground. That meant that he would have to be dismounted immediately. We think that John understands the 'No Helmet - No Ride' thing because on other occasions he has thrown off the helmet in order to end his day! They do say actions speak louder than words!! During his first sessions he tired quickly and often had to be taken off within 15 minutes. It is hard work to sit up on a moving horse when you have been in a wheelchair for a long time. One of the great things about horseback riding for handicapped people is that the movement of the horse accurately mimics the movement of a human walking, pushing your hips in the same way they would move if you walked. This forces your upper body to use muscles that you would be using if you could walk. The brain also gets to process the movement from visual feedback.

    John riding Gold

    John has come a long way in a year. John loves riding. It still takes two men fabulous volunteers to lift John up to the saddle, but John has begun to help lift his leg over the pommel once he is seated. John sits up independently in the saddle. He has begun to center himself when instructed. He holds his head up and looks around. Sometimes he turns his head to look at something in response to the therapist's instructions. But, by far the greatest reward is to hear that infectious laugh!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Work We Go!


    It's been a busy week with only a few 'stolen moments' on the computer.

    We've been working on the house - I'll post my weekly list of accomplishments another day.

    My sister flew into town yesterday. I picked her up at the airport and we had dinner with my dad.

    My brother and sister-in-law flew in today. My hubby and I picked them up and we had lunch and dinner with Dad - but had to drive an hour back home to feed the boys before returning for the second repast.


    Today was a gorgeous day in Denver. In the 70's. Sunny. We figured we would have just over an hour between getting home and having to return for dinner. I was looking forward to some time with the horses. When I got out of the car here I knew I wasn't in Denver any longer! The wind was blowing at almost 20 mph. It wasn't a nice day to go out. So...I settled on grooming for a short bit, before tossing hay at the boys and heading out to eat ourselves.