backyard chickens, carpentry, chickens, farming, homemade, homesteading, turkeys

Building a Turkey Coop

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So many times on the homestead projects are born from necessity.  When we want to plant a new crop, or raise a new animal, there is always an investment to make.  Sometimes its as simple as a trellis for beans, other times its an 8’x8′ turkey coop.  This project was born several months ago when we were at the feed store. There were chick order forms laying on the checkout counter.  We took a quick look and to our surprise they also offered turkey poults. (baby turkeys)

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We had been interested in trying to raise our own turkeys for the the holidays, but shipping was always an issue, so this was a golden opportunity for us.  We did some research after placing the order and found out that the turkeys would need a separate area because disease can be passed from chickens to turkeys.

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When we began designing our turkey’s coop,  we decided to make it a more generic structure that could also be used for other purposes, just in case the turkey rearing didn’t work out.  We also wanted it to fit our homestead and look good.  We designed it to match our chicken coop.

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We finally decided on an 8’x8′ structure, which would allow us to use it as storage in the off season, or maybe a small barn for a couple of sheep.  Since we chose the same roof design and materials as the chicken coop, our next stop was Porosky Lumber.  img_2978

My good friend Scott is a purveyor of both fine hardwood and beautiful rough cut hemlock.  He also makes beautiful cutting boards, wood art, and is one of the best conversationalists you will ever meet.

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Scott loaded us up with some of the most gorgeous 12″ boards and 3″ battens you have ever seen.  These will be used for the exterior of our coop.  It also has some natural rot resistance which was a bonus.

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We began by framing the floor from 2″x4″s and used some pressure treated for runners that would contact the ground and would also allow us to move the coop if necessary.  After squaring the frame up by measuring diagonally from corner to corner we added 3/4 inch cdx plywood for the floor.

We framed the walls adding openings for doors and windows.  After this we mocked up our rafters.

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We then cut all of our rafters and made the frame for the roof.  We installed the corner boards on the frame to stiffen the structure before we climbed onto the roof, which we covered in 1/2″ cdx plywood.  We also framed in the gable ends and added framing for vents on both sides.

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We then covered the structure with those beautiful 12″ boards

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Next we installed the soffits and capped the fascia, and installed the metal roofing. We also had an unexpected guest. (Take a look at the upper window/vent)

The next step was to cap and trim the windows, and install 1/2 inch hardware cloth into the windows and vents to keep out predators.  Finally, we installed the battens ripped them down to 2″ for aesthetic purposes.

The last thing to do was build the doors.  We used the same hemlock boards so that everything matched nicely.

img_3103We now had a great looking addition to the homestead.  This building is versatile, and is built with quality materials that should last for decades.  We can’t wait for our little turkeys to move in.  They say that “necessity is the mother of invention”, and that is certainly the case on the homestead.  Over and over we take on new projects that not only make us use our bodies, but also challenge our mind.  Innovation is still alive and well on the homestead, and every time we take on a new challenge, we are rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction that we can’t find on a screen.

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carpentry, homesteading, tools, wood working

Rainy Days Are Not Just For Movies

We have all been there.  The forecast calls for rain all weekend, and there are a million things that need to be done outside.  You just feel like throwing up your hands and sitting in the house all day, but thing are a little different around here.  A rainy day is an opportunity to have a little fun and get things accomplished at the same time!  Maybe straighten up the garage a little, or even get a little shop time in with no time limit.  It is not very often that you can turn on the music and take all day to do a project.  Especially not in the spring, summer, and fall.  So we took on a little woodworking project you can build on a rainy day and on a budget.  The Adirondack chair, iconic the symbol of country living, and camp fires.  We built this one for around $50, which is about 1/3 of what you can buy one for.

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This project was built out of 6 pieces of 5/4″ x 6″ x 8′ decking.  We also used 2″ and 2.5″ decking screws.  We used a few basic wood working tools that most of us have in the shop like a table saw, jig saw, router, and screw gun.  We have developed a cut sheet to maximize our lumber, so Pandora radio was turned on and all of the boards were cut to length.

 

We prefer our Adirondack chairs built at an 80 degree angle this is a little different than the traditional 75 degrees.  It allows you to sit back in the chair a little more comfortably.  Because of this we also have to cut the bottom of our legs at a 5 degree angle.  We also like a contoured seat which requires an arch to be cut in the stringers.  The stringers and arm rests also have rounded ends that can all be cut with a jig saw.

 

Once we have all of the jig saw work done we round over the rough edges with a 3/8″ round over bit on our router table. This gives the stringers and arms a finished look.  As you can see in the picture on the right, the arms get one end that is rounded and the other is only half rounded.  We also round over all of the edges that were ripped on the table saw, it is time consuming, but worth the extra effort.  We then move on to  assemble the stringers, front brace, and legs.  After that, the back is assembled.  To make the arched top, we mock up the back and make an arc with a radius of 19 inches.  Again we round over the cut edges. After the back is assembled it is connected to the stringers at the rear of the arches we cut earlier.  It is placed at a 100 degree angle.  This is crucial to the chairs comfort, using a protractor to get this angle.

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Now that the back is attached it is a good time to secure the seat slats, and because they are only 1.5 inches wide it is best to pre-drill your holes or they will split.

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Then add the middle back brace, locating it by placing the arm on the chair temporarily, and marking where they meet the back.  These braces are cut on an angle to accept the arms.

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After this, the arms can be secured along with the arm braces.

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We also add our own signature feature, a wine glass holder.  We have broken so many glasses throughout the years that it only made sense to find a way to secure them.  We accomplished this by drilling a 1″ hole in the arm and then use the jig saw to connect it to the outer edge, again route the edges.  Once everything is secure, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This project took us just a little over 3 hrs, but I am sure it could be done quicker if we were in a hurry.  This chair will actually be raffled off to raise money for a fund in memory of my Aunt.  It was a great way to spend a rainy morning, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  A rainy day can be so productive weather it’s in the wood shop or making that great meal that you never quite have the time to make.  So next time it rains, don’t curse the heavens, just change up your game plan.  And don’t forget rain makes corn.

cooking, farming, gardening, homemade, homesteading, recipes, salsa

Pork Empanadas with Primo and Mary’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa

As our fellow homesteaders are aware, the barter system is still alive and well. We have traded many things such as pickles, vegetables and honey for many other things, including the fertilized egg that gave us Mr. Wing (remember him?).

But, a new trade came about recently that was a little unconventional. Eggs and maple syrup for salsa. Yes, salsa. We have many of your basic pantry ingredients like flour, sugar, salt and spices, the usual suspects. We don’t buy or eat many pre-packaged foods, but this is the exception, and one we like to keep in the pantry. We have all heard the term, “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it”, and there are some very scary labels out there, but not this one! It is Primo and Mary’s All Natural Salsa (primoandmarys.com). We know, seems like a shameless plug, but we assure you, it is not, and you won’t regret it.

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So, back to the trade…we had an abundance of chicken eggs for sale as well as some maple syrup and an old high school friend contacted us, the owner and founder of Primo and Mary’s. She wanted to buy both eggs and syrup. Now, we have had her salsa before, and loved it, so we knew that we had to at least try to arrange a trade since her products are not readily available to us locally. So a meeting was made, and of all places, in our Church parking lot one Sunday morning after services. So our proposition was to trade the maple syrup and eggs for some salsa and in return we would also create a recipe using her product and share it with all of you.

Pork Empanadas with Primo and Mary’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Empanada Dough

1 ½ c flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp shortening (Crisco)

3/4 c ice water

Empanada Filling

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 lb ground pork (feel free to substitute ground beef or venison)

1/2 lime, juiced

1/3 c Primo and Mary’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1/2 avocado, diced

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 egg white mixed with 1 tbsp cold water

To make the empanada “shells”, using a hand or stand mixer, combine the flour and salt, add the shortening and mix until the mixture looks like coarse sandy crumbs. With the mixer on, slowly add the water until the dough sticks together and cleans the side of the bowl. Gather in a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. In a cast iron pan, heat the olive oil on med high heat. Add the meat and cook until browned and no longer pink. Turn heat to low and add the salsa, avocado and cayenne pepper and the juice of the 1/2 lime. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Now the fun part! Grab about 1/4 of the dough and roll out to about 1/8th inch thickness on a well-floured board.  Using a 4” round cutter, or in our case a 4” round plastic container (homesteaders are great at improvising!) cut out the shells and set aside for filling. Gather the extra pieces and by hand, mix back in with the remaining dough.

Lay each shell out flat and in the center place about 2 tablespoons of the filling, we use our trusty 2 inch cookie dough scoop. Fold over the shell to create a half moon shape and using a floured fork, press the seam together to seal. Set on a greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining filling and shells.

Mix together the egg white and water. Brush the tops of each empanada with the egg wash. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve with a side of the salsa for dipping and a black bean, corn and avocado salad dressed with a little lime juice and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

There are lots of variations on the empanada, some are baked, some are fried, and they are all filled with an abundance of different ingredients. Use what you have in your pantry, and get yourself some of this amazing salsa!

We are blessed on the homestead with delicious fresh food, and bartering some of our surplus has become a great way to get more from our harvest than just the food itself.  Bartering allows you to make new connections and see old friends.  And it seems like every time we do it everyone leaves smiling.

gardening, glass gem corn, growing corn, homesteading

Glass gem corn happiness and beauty

two branches homestead

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Every year when I look through the seed catalogs, I always come across a picture that grabs my attention.  A picture of a vegetable taken at peak ripeness and in perfect light.  Last year was no exception,  and it was Baker Creek’s catalog cover that drew me in.  It’s always the same. I look at the picture, turn to Tracy and say I’m gonna grow that.  So when the seed order for the year was placed glass gem was on the list.  Glass Gem corn is a beautiful native american flint corn that can be used for flour or popcorn, but it’s this corn’s amazing color that makes it prized. In our area, we plant corn on memorial day weekend, so it was a long wait to get our seeds in the ground.  We planted them away from our other corn to decrease the chance of cross pollination.  After 2…

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