Weekend Projects

This weekend EJ and I discussed projects that we need to accomplish and when they need to get done.

We have three vehicles but to save money we have insurance on only two of them. EJ and JJ both need vehicles to get to work–and, in JJ’s case, to school–but I really don’t need a vehicle very often. Any driving I do can be done when there is a vehicle free. We keep the HHR in the garage during the winter months because the Suburban and Xterra are both four-wheel drive and can handle deep snow. Now that the weather is warming, EJ will soon start driving the HHR–since he has further to drive and the HHR gets the best mileage. We discussed which vehicle to put into the garage for the summer months, and finally chose the Suburban since it needs some maintenance.

We will put the coops inside an enclosure here.
We will put the coops inside an enclosure here.

However, before we stop driving the Suburban, we need it to transport supplies for projects. Yesterday we went to Lowes to get fence posts for the chicken coop enclosure. We are going to put the coops where the previous owner had his dog pen and turn the two sturdy dog houses he left behind into additional chicken coops. We are going to remove the old fencing and use it to make fruit tree cages to protect our fruit trees from deer. Once the older fencing is taken out, we will build a smaller enclosure to put the coops in. Before we left home, we measured out the enclosure and then checked the Lowes website to see what fence posts they had and how much they cost. We decided to get twelve 10 foot posts for about $15 each.  When we got to Lowes, we saw 8 foot landscape posts for less than $5 each. We decided that 8 foot posts would work just fine so we bought those instead of the more expensive ones.

One of our "twisted" apple trees.
One of our “twisted” apple trees.

The landscape posts were in the outdoor gardening section of Lowes and while we were there, EJ saw fruit trees. We walked over to check them out, and we saw that they had really cool apple trees called Apple Twist Combos, in which two compatible apple varieties are planted and twisted together. The two varieties pollinate each other so only one Apple Twist is needed to produce fruit!  Since we had saved a lot of money on the fence poles, we decided to get two Apple Twist trees. We got one that combined Honeycrisp and Honeygold varieties and the other that combined Gala and Braeburn varieties. We had intended to get a Gala/Cortland because EJ prefers tart apples–JJ and I like sweeter apples–but we got the Gala/Braeburn by mistake. We might go back and get a Cortland combo–or maybe a Granny Smith if they have any. In effect, we got four trees for the price of two, which is a really good deal.

So now we have cherry trees, hazelnut trees, and apple trees lining our driveway. As I wrote recently, besides allowing us to grow and enjoy our own fruit, we are using the trees as anti-erosion measures. Last year we spent several thousand dollars buying tons of gravel and topsoil and we spent hours and hours shoveling it into the deep gullies to stop the erosion. We can’t afford to pour money and effort into repeatedly fixing the driveway, so we are doing what we can to prevent the soil from washing away. Planting trees is one of the methods. I’m considering planting some lavender along the driveway as well because it does well in sandy soil, which we have, and I always wanted to have lavender. I tried to plant it at our old house, but we didn’t have enough sun.

After Lowes, we went to the farm store for fencing. We had also looked up their products and pricing before we left home. We talked with the farm store employees and they gave us a lot of helpful advice. One guy said he has used the heavy stiff fence panels and it kept out the predators–but they were more expensive and would be difficult for us to transport home with the Suburban. So we decided to get a roll of fencing, which was much cheaper and which the farm store guys said would work just as well. EJ said he wanted to get tall fencing because he plans to bury a foot or so of it into the ground to prevent predators–like coyotes, wolves, or cougars–from digging under the fence. One guy warned us that we also have to be careful because foxes can easily climb trees and fences and get into the enclosure. I had just recently read this about foxes at a website about raising chickens. I knew foxes were clever but never knew that they could climb! EJ was already planning to put fencing on top of the enclosure as a roof to prevent foxes, or owls, or other predators from getting our chickens and ducks from above. The guys said that nothing would keep out weasels so hopefully we won’t get weasels–or cougars or bears. They also said we could get little pinwheels from the Dollar store and put them at the top of the enclosure because that scares off the predators. It’s very helpful to talk to people who are knowledgeable.

The farm store guys helped us load the fencing into the Suburban, which was already loaded with fence posts and apple trees, and then we drove off for home and unloaded our supplies. EJ and I discussed the best place to plant the apple trees. The woman we had talked to at the nursery the other day had told us that it can get so cold in our area (as low as -40) that even fruit trees for our planting zone can get damaged. She said that cold sinks into the valley so fruit trees are actually safer on a hill. So we planted the apple trees along the driveway up toward the top of our hill.

I had noticed that our duck Peeper had dried poop on his bill, covering one of his nostrils. Cuddles is more gentle and lets us pick her (or him?) up, but Peeper is always very vocal, assertive, and avoids being picked up. I lured the ducks out of the coop in the garage with lettuce and easily captured Peeper…this time. EJ was sitting in a lawn chair in the garage and I gave him Peeper. He used the wet paper towel I gave him to clean off his bill. Then he held Peeper on his lap for a bit and Peeper seemed to be fine with it. We really enjoy all of our birds, but the chickens are more skittish. Peeper and Cuddles have such strong personalities that they are becoming pets.

Besides using the Suburban to get the coop supplies, we also need to haul some stuff to the township “clean up day” in a couple of weeks. During clean up day, township residents can haul junk to the designated spot to get rid of it at no cost. We don’t have a lot of things, but we have a few things to get rid of–like an old disintegrating buckboard wagon that was left here by the previous owners, and maybe the old yucky hot tub that was also here when we moved in, and a few things like that. We also need to drive down to the old house to get EJ’s left behind tools and toolboxes. I’m not looking forward to going to the old house.

EJ cuddling Cuddles
EJ cuddling Cuddles

This morning EJ helped me clean out the coop in the garage. It’s difficult to clean out the cage where there are so many birds in it, so we lured out Cuddles who came out eagerly. We couldn’t get Peepers to leave the coop–maybe he had enough cuddling yesterday. After EJ cuddled Cuddles a bit, he put her (or him) down and together we lifted the cage slightly and moved it over so the wet bedding was outside the coop. We were careful not to hurt the birds inside, of course. Then we put Cuddles back inside the coop and EJ shoveled the old bedding into the wheelbarrow while I put new bedding in the coop and refilled their water and food feeders. It went a lot faster with EJ’s help.

Later, Danny needed to go outside, so I went out with him. He first went to the garage door which was closed today because the weather is cooler. The ducks and chickens inside heard him and started chirping. After a moment he wandered off to “do his business” while I wait for him at the top of the hill. My attention was caught by a huge bird flying towards me. It landed on a tree not far from the garage with a flapping sound, sort of like the sound a sail makes in the wind. I couldn’t see its head very well, but I am assuming it was a turkey vulture because it was so big. It occurred to me that it had heard and/or smelled the little ducks and chickens in the garage and came to check them out. I told EJ about it when Danny and I went back into the house. EJ said he has seen it sitting there several times in the last couple of days. So turkey vultures are another of the many predators we need to keep our birdies safe from.

I learned that the movie, Batman v. Superman, was showing at a local movie theater this week, so we decided to go. Because the theater has only one screen, they don’t play movies the day they come out nationally. If they did, they’d have to keep it for two to six weeks depending on the company and the contract. To get the most variety of films, they wait about three to five weeks before playing new releases and they usually play them for one week only. The theater was built in 1940 and has a very quaint, old-fashioned feel to it. The tickets and the cost of snacks is very low, so it’s very affordable. They have two kinds of seats: in the outside sections, they are regular seats, but the middle section has rocking chairs. Of course we chose to sit in the rocking chairs. Because we went to the matinée, the theater was not full, which is nice. This is our favorite theater.

Spoiler:  We loved Batman vs Superman. JJ knows a lot of superhero lore so he picked up on things EJ and I didn’t. Even so, I loved the movie. Of course, I like superhero movies anyway, but I thought that this movie was especially spiritual. Superman was in the role of God/Messiah, and the movie addressed the common question that if God is all-powerful and good then why is there evil? And if there is evil then perhaps God is either not all-powerful or not all good. People struggle with these questions so I think it’s ok to address them. In the movie, Lex Luther tried to manipulate man (Batman) into killing God (Superman). When Batman didn’t kill Superman (although he came close), Lex said that since man wouldn’t kill God, he’d let the demon do it. Superman did get killed and was buried, but the final scene hinted that he would rise from the grave. Very interesting and, as I said, very spiritual.


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