We have been getting to know another set of neighbors, who live a little further away. They seem pretty cool. At the beginning of the month, they gave us a camper fridge, since they didn’t need it anymore and we are one of the only people they know out here who have electricity. I’ve seen them while walking to check the mail, and talked to them while talking the shuttle to town, but going with Sarah* to pick up the fridge was the first time that I have visited their place.
The road to get to their homestead was even rougher and steeper than ours (you could not live on their land without a truck, I’d think.). But after going very, very slowly, we finally got back there, and I LOVED their set-up. The frame for their chicken run is built almost completely from saplings from the property. I’m pretty sure that one of the coops inside the run was store-bought, but the chicken-run was hand built and it was BEAUTIFUL. They breed Kochin Marin chickens, and come spring we are going to be buying some chicks from them. They sell theirs for about a dollar cheaper than the stores do, and I don’t have to pay shipping either. How can you beat that?
Besides the chickens, they had guinea fowl and ducks (I think they were Khaki Campbells), and HUGE turkeys. I’m not sure what type of turkeys they were, but they were gorgeous. The funny thing is they clearly knew it, too. The toms were clearly showing off, prancing and fanning their big feathers, cooing and gobbling for attention and corn.
The fridge has the option of being run by electricity or by propane. You just have to hit a switch to change from one to the other. That is an awesome resiliency thing. If the electricity goes out, we just hit the switch and screw in a propane tank, and voila! Food is still good. That’s a nice feature for living in the middle of no-where.
I got most of the kitchen insulated. I had originally wanted to go with recycled denim insulation, because it’s greener, less toxic, its recycled, and extremely sound-absorbent. But that ended up being too expensive. It was about 5 times as expensive as fiberglass, with is $15 a roll; recycled denim is about $65 a roll. It was cold and we were going through so much wood keeping the fire lit, the cabin was uninsulated, it just made sense to settle and get the cheap insulation. Oh well.
Had to use the batts of fiberglass behind the woodstove, because the rolls that are faced are flammable. Fiberglass itself is not flammable, but the rolls have paper facing on the side the faces out. The batts don’t, so that’s the kind that went on the wall behind the woodstove, behind the sheet metal, of course. (EDIT: I was wrong. We went with rock wool behind the woodstove. Opps.)
We also got MOST but not all of one of the walls in Alex’s room/the hangout room. $60 or $80 more will insulate the rest of the cabin. Then we have to actually cover it up with some kind of wall. But, it’s coming along. There are a few spots I’m not insulating, in a square shape, because I’m going to put two windows in this cabin this summer if I can. Other than that, it’s close. After the walls and windowa, the floor needs to be completely reinforced before I start tiling it. But it’s coming up. The place is getting so much better.
THOR BEING AN IDIOT AGAIN
Thor hurt himself again. On the 2nd or 3rd day of the year I had to take him to the vet, because he had an abscess on his paw. Thankfully the vet appointments are pretty cheap here, only $30 to be seen. Thor needed antibiotics, so I had to pay $95. Thankfully we got Thor in before the abscess had gotten down into the muscle, because if it had he would have needed surgery, and it would have cost around $200-$350, THAT I DON’T HAVE. God fucking dammit Thor. When Loki had an open wound on her paw, she was smart enough to stay off of it for two weeks, walking around three-legged, holding her hurt paw to her chest, and it freaking healed on its own. Not Thor. He got excited and ran around in the dirt and made it worse. I thought it would heal on its own like Loki’s did. Luckily, the antibiotics did their job, and he’s fine now. I’m pretty sure that the antibiotic also had a sedative in them, because every single time we gave them to him, he got KNOCKED OUT. It was actually pretty hilarious and really cute.
Of course, a few weeks after that, Thor stuck his face into a possum’s face and got a big bite on his nose. It’s almost completely healed now, but he’s probably gonna have a pink mark on his little black nose. SIGH. When he’s old he’s gonna be covered in scars, and it’ll look like he gets into fights with other dogs, but its just from him being a curious dumb-ass that is too friendly! I’m pretty sure he wanted to play with the possum, not eat it. Every once in a while he tries to chase the rooster, even though I yell at him for it, and he’ll stop. But one day, the rooster will get sick of it, rear up and get Thor with his spurs. I’m not sure if he’ll ever learn at this point. I’m starting to think that I’m going to need two emergency funds; the general emergency fund, and Thor emergency fund, since it seems like he needs to go to the vet twice a year.
We FINALLY got internet here on the 10th. Except for last year when I crashed with a friend for two months, it’s been 2 years since I’ve had reliable internet where I lived. TWO YEARS!
Winter here is a strange thing. Missouri is smack-dab in the middle of the United States, and we are subject to both warm and cold fronts from all over the country, so it can be unpredictable. Christmas day was 60 degrees. The beginning of January was frigid. We have had days of 55 and 60 degrees for 5 days in a row, and then it plummets to below freezing. In fact in the beginning of January we were hit by an ice storm. It was COLD, but strangely beautiful. All the trees and bushes were covered with a fine sheen of ice. Some of the ceders broke under the weight of it. It looked like an Ice Giant had walked through all the land, freezing everything in it’s wake. It was eerrie, made my land look like like Narnia or the Otherworld or something.
It stayed frozen like that for about three days, and when it warmed up and started to melt, it sounded like it was raining in the woods. Now its February, and its back to being around 55 and 60ish in the day, and 40ish at night. It’s practically spring here. The trees have not budded yet, but clover is growing, some of the grass is coming back, and the cows and goats are having babies.
Got a letter from the government that decides that I’m not going to risk jobbing. Turns out I’ve used seven out of my nine “trial work months” in the last 5 years. And they don’t need to be nine months in a row, its any nine months in a 5 year period. Which is stupid. But I can’t risk losing my SSI, since I apparently accidentally went over the (tiny, small, infinitesimal) amount of money I’m allowed to earn. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I don’t really want to work a traditional job. I want to work on my writing, my homestead, my divination, my art, and my charity.
Sarah* is still looking for a job She has had a few interviews, a few of which were really frustrating. One job had her drive an hour a way, which would have been worth it if she had gotten it, because it would have been almost 40,000 a year. Then they made her wait an hour for her interview. And they immediately said she can’t have the job because she isn’t 21 yet. GEE, maybe you should have put that IN THE JOB ADVERTISEMENT, so she would not have wasted TIME, MONEY AND GAS????? But she had a pretty good interview a few days ago, so hopefully that one works out.
OTHER IMPROVEMENTS TO THE HOMESTEAD
A friend in town gave us a bunch of old chicken wire, a bunch of plastic 55 gallon barrels, and more (this is a different friend than last time). In spring we’ll even get a good sink from her. It’s the old cast-iron farmhouse style sink that they don’t make anymore. She’s going to be gutting and remodeling her kitchen, and she offered the sink station to us if we’ll move it in the warm spring months. I eagerly jumped on that! So yes, I now have dibs on a beautiful sink for my kitchen! 😀
Ben* has also been doing a lot of work here on the homestead, chopping down some trees and working on clearing. He’s working on making a few paths through the woods to go through the property to various places. He lined them with downed cedar saplings. He built an awesome firepit with the huge rocks that he dug out of the ground here.
He also fixed a problem we had in the front of our house. Right in front of the door of the cabin, the dirt constantly turned into a mud pit that made it hard to get inside without tracking mud inside. He took more rocks he dug up, flat ones, and made a little porch-like walkway area in front of the door. He piled the mud in between the rocks to hold it together solidly. It’s awesome, looks great, and it works!