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And Then the Tornado Came…

Our new Barred Rock Chickens are growing.  As baby chicks, they need to get settled into their new environment and require protection from the weather extremes, so we kept them inside the little building where the riding mower is usually housed.  When they are about eight weeks old, the chicks are ready to begin experiencing the great outdoors.

We moved them to a portable cage outside near the chicken coop that will eventually be their permanent home.  The new birds need to be carefully introduced to the already existing flock or there will be problems.  Let’s just say that pecking order is a real “thing” and the older flock of hens would not welcome the new birds with open wings if they were just thrown into the coop.  We’ll move the Barred Rocks into the coop in about four to six weeks and even then they will only be able to see each other (and smell each other) until they’ve all become acclimated to their new living conditions.

The young chicks received a rather extreme exposure to the outside world on their very first day.  Mr. Fifty Shades moved them in the late afternoon.  Later on, it became Dark.  And Stormy.  And, then it was Night.  Yep, it was a dark and stormy night…and then the tornado came.  It was a bit scary for a while.  Sage and Mrs. Fifty Shades huddled in the bathroom as they were both a little freaked out by the wind.  Mr. Fifty Shades and Scout stayed in the bedroom to monitor the weather.  The tornado blew threw in about 15 minutes and we considered ourselves lucky to have no damage to the house although the bluebird house got a little wind tossed…

…and a few trees branches fell…

We lost electricity from about 9:30 p.m. on Friday until about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.  So, our generator came in handy.

We appreciate our generator so much we just had to take a picture!

And, for those of you who’ve never been through a hurricane with Mr. Fifty Shades, rest assured that we had plenty of coffee to help us get through the day!

We’re all back to normal now and Mr. Fifty Shades is continuing on with this newest project – a “pavillion” that will allow us to work on all sorts of projects under a roof near our square foot garden and chicken coop.

We’ll leave you with a few pictures of our hummingbirds who are going crazy feeding on the nectar we make for them.

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres Team

 

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A New Toy

About a week ago, we acquired a new toy.   A Cement Mixer!  Wow!  Whoopee!  Yay!

This cement mixer made the completion of Project 42.A.(4)f(25) possible and we are so happy to include it in our power tool and equipment family.

Since you are breathlessly awaiting the description of our little endeavor, let’s get to it….

About a year ago, Mr. Fifty Shades of Green Acres installed a hydrant near our chicken coop and square foot garden to make it easier for us to clean the coop and water the garden.  To be expected, the area around the hydrant began to get a little soggy and muddy whenever we worked around it.  So, Mr. Fifty Shades decided he needed to learn how to pour concrete so that he could make the hydrant location sturdier and less messy.

To start, there are directions right on the mixer – and only five easy steps.  This looks like a cinch to do – might be easier than putting a veneer finish on furniture, which is pretty easy to do (according to my mother-in-law who saw it done on Martha Stewart – the veneer, that is, not the concrete).

Once you have read the directions, you get down to business…

Turn on the mixer, add water in the drum and then several 50 pound bags of premixed concrete…every 20 pounds of dry concrete mix yields about a bit over 1/7th of a cubic foot of poured concrete.

Let it get nice and gooey, and then…

…pour it in the mold.   Although, Mr. Fifty Shades says it isn’t gelatin so it’s pour it in the forms.

Spread it evenly into the formed area then repeat several more times.  You must do this when it’s at the hottest point of the day – because – well – just because!   Throughout the process, the concrete gets tamped down with this tamping down tool.

Once you’ve got all the concrete in, you use this handy tool called a float that Mr. Fifty Shades made because he did not want to (yes, you guessed it) spend the money to buy one.  You pat down the concrete and this tool helps to work the rocks down into the mix and bring some of the cement, sand and water to the surface.

 

After the cement sets for a while, you can come back and do this..

and then sweep…to create texture and prevent slips and then trips to the hospital

This pad needs to set for a bit and in a couple days the forms can be removed.

Of course, as with all projects, cleaning up is a must…

Now that we’ve tackled this one, other cement projects await!

In other news,

…our first tomatoes have emerged…

and we are trying out reflective tape (a gift from our VIC – very important cousin!) to see if it keeps the birds away.  We love the birds but we don’t really like to share our vegetables with them.  We’ll let you know if it works!

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres Team

 

Sage Words

Hi.  It’s me, Sage.

Mr. Fifty Shades has been working on a project that was started in August.  He decided that there was space that was being wasted underneath the west deck.  So, he began to work.  First the area needed to be leveled a bit so that a floor could be built to store push mowers and other important things, or at least Mr. Fifty Shades seems to think they’re important.

Then framing and floor installation for the new “mini-deck”.

 

As long as we’re at it, let’s add a wall and a new deck too!

You can’t have a wall without house wrap.  Mrs. Fifty Shades calls Mr. Fifty Shades “The Rapper.”  (For those of you younger than 60, that’s a joke)

You can see that the new wall is going to connect to an existing one so I told Mr. Fifty Shades he had better make sure everything matched or Mrs. Fifty Shades would make him live out there.  So, he went to work on it:

Mrs. Fifty Shades said it was fine, for now, since it looks like it was part of the original house, but Mr. Fifty Shades better get to work and paint the gray part soon.

I’m glad he did a good job building it because I kind of had a problem the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I was out minding my own business while on a walk around the property, like we do several times each day, when Mrs. Fifty Shades decided that checking for eggs in the chicken coop was more important than what I wanted to do.  I showed her!!.  Off I went, straight down, then up the hill.  She let go of the leash, but that was after I pulled her to the ground and broke her wrist.  I went running and playing along.  (I still beat Mrs. Fifty Shades back to the house.)  I think that new storage area is the doghouse where I might have to stay for a while.  When I get out, though, there will be plenty of room for Mr. Fifty Shades the next time he does something stupid.  (I bet I won’t have to stay long since it isn’t big enough for 2)

(By the way, since Mrs. Fifty Shades only has one arm to type with I asked Mr. Fifty Shades to type this for me.)

Until next time:  Let’s be careful out there.

 

Hurricane Irma

Dear Friends and Family,

You are in our thoughts as Irma makes her way through Florida.  Most of you are staying put and banding together with friends and family.  May your experience result in minor damage and little disruption to your lives.  Please let us hear from you as it is possible to let us know you’re ok.

Mr. & Mrs. Fifty Shades of Green Acres

The Scout Report

While construction on the new shop is progressing Sage and I are keeping an eye on things.  I, for one, couldn’t be more excited…

The siding is going on and the crew might just finish up this week or early next week…

 

While the shop is progressing, Mr. Fifty Shades decided that he needed to start a new project.  Then, he decided that the project needed a project.  The first project is building a deck underneath the little balcony on the west side of the house.

Sawdust is flying!

The deck will be enclosed on three sides and will hold different types of yard equipment.

But, this just didn’t seem like enough of a project.  So, Mr. Fifty Shades decided to expand the deck out about twelve feet…

In addition to the construction work, the last couple weeks have been busy in the kitchen trying to use up some of our garden produce…

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Greek Cucumber Salad

Zucchini Muffins

 

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Woops – the Blackout Cake did not contain any vegetables whatsoever.  It was made to celebrate someone’s birthday and it was amazing.  Mr. Fifty Shades cannot eat a whole slice because it’s so rich.  Mrs. Fifty Shades thinks that is crazy talk.

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres Team

The Big Drill…and Other Stories

Hello Everyone.  Here we are in the middle of summer and it’s been a busy time.

First, Mr. Fifty Shades needed an excuse to buy a Big Drill…so he decided he needed to a make a big hole in our basement wall…

Of course, he would tell you that he was only trying to drill the hole to insert a pipe that would lead from the basement to an outdoor hydrant right next to our chicken coop and square foot garden.  Here he is explaining to me how the hydrant works.  It is very sweet that he thinks I would understand this.  But, it is pretty nifty – there was mention of a piston that keeps the water out of the vertical pipe, which will ensure that the water won’t freeze the pipe in winter. Digging a ditch from the house to the pump – hot, grueling work, but the result is way cool!

Back to the basement…

You may have noticed this in the previous pictures – 

This is a water softener system that Mr. Fifty Shades installed.  It was a bit of an intricate process hooking it all up.  Our 15 year old friend from last year was here to assist and I heard him say to Mr. Fifty Shades before they “threw the switch” to turn it on, “I’m a little nervous.”  Mr. Fifty Shades admitted he was, too.  Although Mr. Fifty Shades is still tweaking a few things here and there it appears to be working well.

The Little House below The Little House in the Woods

Mr. Fifty Shades started this project last year:  a separate building to house the riding lawn mower.  He is putting the final touches on it.

Inside the new garage, the primer coat is on and the final gray paint is cut in.

 

Checking for fit – yep, looks good!

 

Measuring and rolling out the flooring

Flooring cut and working it into the corners.

 

My (not so) Secret Garden

Mr. Fifty Shades built a square foot garden area right near the new garage.  We grew the tomato plants from seed in our basement this spring and then transplanted them to this garden area.  There are eight different kinds of tomatoes planted and we love some of their names:  Fantastico, Juliet, Mrs. Maxwell’s Big Italian, Paul Robeson (yes, there’s a tomato named after him), Brandywine.  We liked having this garden so close to the house and we’re hoping to build one or two more next year.

 

 

The Workshop

At long last…we’ve started construction on a workshop.  The location is where The Trailer used to be.  Here’s a glimpse of it and we’ll post more progress on it soon.

Until next time,

The Fifty Shades of Green Acres Team

It’s June!

Hello!  Official summer is almost here but in the meantime, signs of summer surround us – long, hot days and grass that grows faster than a BMW goes from 0 to 60.  Temperatures began to rise to the 80’s a couple weeks ago, but this morning it was 57 when we took the pups for their first walk of the day.  If only we could preserve that for the rest of the season.

Our garden efforts continue to delight and surprise us (as in – did we really manage not to kill that?):

Lettuce…

Mesclun Mix and Romaine…

and some herbs that grow on our porch…

Strawberries

In addition to enjoying the sweet, fresh berries…

…Mr. Fifty Shades experimented with some homemade strawberry ice cream…

…and some strawberry jam

Also, Mr. Fifty Shades built a square foot garden area near the house where we’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, and more lettuce

In non-gardening activities…

We installed this bird house near our house for blue birds but last year and this year, tree swallows encouraged the blue birds to move out.  Here’s the sassy new resident…

I am so weary just taking pictures of all this activity I might have to go eat a bowl of ice cream.

Until next time,

Mrs. Fifty Shades of Green Acres