Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Spring Work

The maple sugarin' season was very short this year with a low yield.  We made about 25% of what we made last year.  Lucky for us we have a very diversified farm and we don't rely on one product/season.  My advice is that if you are looking to get fresh CT maple syrup this year, snap to it!  Many of the larger producers will be buying their syrup in bulk  from Canada and re-bottling it in their own containers.  If you want REAL CT syrup.  Go buy it before the end of April.

In other news, we have a busy day on the farm:

Erica and the the kids are going to the sugar bush to gather all the buckets.  Then we will need to clean and store all the maple syrup making equipment.

I'm working on the first batch of chicken coops.  We've already sold a few and have customers waiting.

We've also just acquired some new calves and the turkeys and chickens are arriving later this week.

The eggs in the incubator in the house should be hatching any day, as well as the various clutches of turkey and chicken eggs "hidden" under hens throughout the barnyard and barn.

Another batch of bees should be ready for pickup any day.

Manure needs to be loaded, moved, spread, and tilled. 

Spring veggies need to be planted.  Seeds need to be started.

WOW!  Let's get busy...!  New photos of SPRING to follow.

 
 

Construction Continues on the Sugar Shack

Last weekend we started to put the roof together for our sugar shack.  It will ultimately be an open-walled pole structure to house our maple syrup evaporator.  We'll be able to make much more syrup once we're able to get a roof overhead the whole operation.  No more standing around in the cold drizzle!

The first task in getting up the roof was to set the ridge pole over the center of the framing.  I got the longest 2 x 8 available, but I still wish it was a few feet longer so I could have an nice overhang on the end.  I have an idea as to how to make an overhang in a slightly different way, so it will still probably work out.

Next we had to measure out the angles for the rafters.  I personally do not enjoy doing math, so we measured out the first rafter while holding it in place.  We got the perfect angle on the second try.  Not too bad.  This rafter became the "cookie cutter" by which we measured and cut all the others.

Measuring out the first rafter was a two person job.  Luckily, we have enough ladders.

As a side note, the weather is starting to become hat-weather...Nice.  My favorite time of the year!

A cluster of turkeys watches our progress from the background, while their constant gobbling urges Erica further up the ladder.

The first rafter is measured and set.  We ended up completing 1/2 of the rafters.  Today the plan is to finish up the roof and get ready to put on some covering and make a cupola from which the steam from the evaporation process will escape later in the week.

Did you know?  Rafters make great race-car ramps!

 

 
 

Rain Gutters = Dry Pigs

One of the projects that was on the slate this summer was to install gutters along the front edge of the barn.  Mainly I wanted to keep some of the water out of the pig pen, but also I wanted to try to keep the rain splashing on the barn sills to a minimum. 

We decided to run 1/2 of the legnth of the barn to start.  This would take care of the pig pen area and also it would be pretty hard to run more than 50 feet of gutter all in one direction.  Too much water would get in there and there would be overflow.

Pinning up gutters seemed like an easy task:

1. purchase gutters
2. install them on barn

Not SO simple, it turns out.  This project called for lots of pre-steps before we even got near the gutters.  One step was even involved paint (I loathe painting, anyone can tell you).  I mean, seriously, putting up gutters involves PAINT?!  What the heck...

We first had to install some trim work upon which to attach the gutters.  There was only about 1" of existing trim, not enough to provide the angle we'd need to run 50 feet.  So we tacked up some  6" pine to make a nice surface.  But, then we had to paint it.

Lucky for me, my kids love to paint!

They did such a great job that I only had to touch up areas here and there...I know where to turn ANYTIME I need any painting done.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I got more paint on my clothes than the kids did!

101 feet, 8 inches of "gutter-mount" painted and ready for the gutters...

The next step was the kids' favorite.  When I was building the new out-building, we often used the chalk-line.  They love snapping it and then reeling it back in.  We snapped a 51 foot chalk-line and proceeded to mount the gutters.  We bought these nifty little clips that simply clip into each channel of the gutter and then screw in with a power drill.  Nice and quick!  What was not nice and quick was all the sealing that had to be done to the seams between gutters, to the downspout, to the gutter end, etc...I dislike the caulking gun almost as much as the paint brush.  It especially becomes a chore on the third try at sealing it all correctly to keep it all from leaking.  Pretty soon, though, the kids will be able to handle the caulking gun, too.

The gutters are now up (ironically all the rain has gone away) and we're all ready for some dry less-wet-than-before hogs for the Fall.  Next time it rains, the gutters will whisk the water away to the edge of the barnyard where it will soak into the ground without making mud.

 

 
 

A Pilgrim's Progress

Well, it threatened to rain all day, but only spritzed a little bit here and there for a couple of minutes.  So, my work crew (see photo 1) and I got lots accomplished on the new chicken coop/shed.

We managed to get the end rafters up and we hung the ridge pole.  We had to make a quick stop back to the lumber yard in the midst of the work day as we realized our math was a little fuzzy.  But, one new 2 x 8 x 12 later and we were back in business!  I've been reading a little about building and learned that I need to hang a little of the ridge pole over (I did 8") in order to have a nice overhang that will also serve as a sort of a drip edge.  I'll hang (ladder-style) some more rafters off the front and back to make that overhang.  Stay tuned as we finish up the roof!  If all goes well, I'll be enrolling in Door-Making 101 sometime next week.  (I already have the windows--nice recycled/reclaimed 6 pane wooden sashes.)

Those weather folks keep telling us rain, rain, rain, but today ended up a great almost-summer day.  Not too hot, not too humid, and not much rain!

 
 

Thick with Chicken Coops

It has been a busy several days here.  With school vacation last week, there were lots of projects to finish up, continue, and start.

Erica and the kids were able to get all the seeds started in a small indoor greenhouse, we tilled the garden and rolled over all the manure we spread in there, an herb garden took shape, bulbs were transplanted all around the yard, and of course the chicken coops rolled off the "assembly line."

I have found that four is the number to build at a time.  Any more than four at a time and the hardware store runs out of hinges and latches.  But if I get enough for four, somehow the store is all restocked the following week waiting for my next batch of coops.

So far I've finished four and moved them out to their new homes, and have four more 1/2 way finished.  I will build another four, as well as a 4 x 7 foot goat barn that we have a deposit on, and hopefully finish up my own 10 x 8 shed/meat chicken house (pics on that to follow later).

Here are four coops just past the halfway point.  I find that cutting each section in fours also speeds up the construction, but allows me to vary my tasks at a rapid enough pace to keep me interested in what I'm doing.

After the rough framing and the nesting boxes, I add some walls, a "pop-hole" for the hens complete with a door, and some roof trusses.

I also add two windows.  I make them diamond shape just to add some character and to make them different from any other building out there.

The 4 foot by 4 foot construction allows for enough space for a small backyard flock and also allows me to move it around with my hand truck and fit it into just about any size truck.  (I add the side door just before we load them up.)

Here is the coop in even the smallest of trucks.  This one is about to be taken to its new owners a few towns away.

We also offer a coop "package," for which customers receive some feed, a waterer, a feeder, some nesting box hay, and 6 baby chicks.  Long live the backyard chicken!  We started our farm with this exact same coop that I designed while building it many years ago.  We had four chickens and two rabbits.  We've grown quite a bit since then!

 

 
 

Cold Hands

So we started out our farm life several years ago with a rabbit.  Then we had two rabbits.  Then, well, you know how that works. 

We progressed to a small chicken coop with funky little diamond-shaped windows.  We had two chickens.  Then four chickens.  Then...

So, this past summer here at the new farm a customer asked if we could build a chicken coop for her backyard.  Recalling our first coop, we put together some plans and I built the coop.  Another customer stopped by, saw the finished product, and put down a deposit on the next one that I could build.  Pretty soon, I was building two at a time to meet the demand.  Who knew backyard chickens were so hip?

Well, that was in the summer and fall, and now it is -1ยบ F here in CT.  A little cold to work on coops outside, but I will be beginning to fabricate the framing pieces, sides, and nesting boxes in the workshop (right next to the woodstove).  I've set my limit for Easter at 6 coops and 6 rabbit hutches, but depending on the demand and the incoming deposits, I may have to build more.

 

 No, she does not come with the coop.  But could I interest you in a "nice" and "friendly" rooster?

 
 
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