A creative break from farming.

Fall puts me in the mood to work on art and craft projects.  The same holds true for Rod, which is why he planned on spending some time in his new work shop building a cradle for my niece’s first baby, which was due September 14th.  You’ll notice I said “was“.Baby Cradle 1

Rod’s early fall project turned out to be a late summer one as our grandniece decided she was ready to join her parents on July 14th.  Fortunately the roofing crew had just completed the work on our house so he could put his focus on building the cradle.

Because this is an heirloom piece, he opted to purchased three red oak boards from a local mill.Baby Cradle 2 Unlike boards you would pickup at the large lumber yards or home improvement stores, these are rough cut sizes which require additional planing to achieve the exact thickness of board needed.Baby Cradle 3With the planing complete he begins cutting out the pieces.

First cuts are the lengths needed for the two ends.  They are joined and glued, making a board large enough to fit the pattern.Baby Cradle 4Baby Cradle 5

Back to more cutting while the ends dry.

A dado blade is used on the side rails, creating a groove that the spindles, spacers, and base will fit in.Baby Cradle 7

With all the pieces cut out and sanded the assembly can begin.Baby Cradle 10 Oh and yes, each of those spindles and spaces were sanded too . . . that’s a lot of sanding!!

While Rod worked on assembling the basket, I heated up my wood burner and wrote his name and year on the underside of the bottom rail.  I don’t think it turned out too badly considering I haven’t picked up that wood burner in over 25 years.Baby Cradle 11

With the basket complete, he can now finish the assembly.Baby Cradle 12

Baby Cradle 13After several coats of shellack we have a finished product . . .Baby Cradle 14and one content little Kylah Marie.

By the way, the afghan that covers her was made by “yours truly” 😉

Growing grass in a well used chicken run.

 We like to free range our chickens, but once the gardens are planted they need to be corralled. The 16’x40′ run made of re-purposed dog kennel panels is attached to their coop and covered with a large pheasant net which keeps them safe from various predators.  We extend their run with poultry fencing so they can get to fresh grass and bugs, but there are times they need to be confined to just their run which no longer has grass.  I found an idea online for our well used run.

With tools gathered, I began the process of testing out this idea by attaching hardware cloth to a 4’x4′ frame.grass growing frames 1

The next step was to spread a pasture mix, cover it with straw and set my frame.  I placed this test frame in with the newbies since they are not yet able to join the big girls in the pasture.grass growing frames 2

I chose a location under their ladder roost, figuring the extra fertilizer should help it grow.  It wasn’t long and one of the Rohde Island Reds decided to hop up and do her part . . . lol.grass growing frames 3

Two weeks later we have grass!!grass growing frames 8

Since that was a success, I decided to get my equipment set up . . . grass growing frames 4bthen round up more scrap lumber used from re-roofing our house.grass growing frames 4a

With boards cut for three 4’x5′ framesgrass growing frames 4 and assembledgrass growing frames 5  I’m ready to attach the hardware cloth.

Rod’s experience and tools makes the task go smoothly.grass growing frames 6A pneumatic staple gun and larger wire cutter were easier on my hands than the tools I used for the test frame.

Three frames complete and ready for the run.  This time I will cover the seed with potting soil rather than straw.grass growing frames 7

We uncovered the two week old grass and repositioned the frame next to one of the new larger frames.grass growing frames 12Looks like the fresh grass is a hit!

The other two frames were set in the big girls side of the run and we even passed the inspection of our two older Delawares.grass growing frames 13  Mama approved of the job well done and her sister checked to see that her tomato plant was not harmed 😉

This task was completed late yesterday afternoon, so this morning I checked on the newbies to see how their grass held up . . . Frame grass next day 1well that didn’t take long.  Although they did leave a little green.Frame grass next day 2

We may try leaving the frame in place a bit longer, letting the grass grow through the hardware cloth allowing it to become thicker while the chickens graze on the tall growth.  Another thought is to only leave it uncovered for an hour or so, just long enough for the girls to give the grass a good trimming.  Either way, I like this concept.