I keep telling myself it is just a big bedroom…

The ridge board has landed and it is spectacular.  The 2x14x16 is a freshly cut piece of Indiana Poplar that was purchased from Wilhelm Sawmill in Brookville, Indiana.  They were a pleasure to work with. While discussing the purchase, they also informed us that the Indiana Poplar is the state tree!  Who knew? We all do now.

Our big lumber delivery happened and we had some time to cut down all of the 16 ft boards for the floor joist construction.  We hope to get the joists screwed together this upcoming weekend. It was so awesome to see our order in real life as opposed to the virtual shopping cart I have been staring at for the past month.  

We have discovered a couple of things we need to consider which we will review with someone before moving forward.  

Things we have consulted on:

Screwing in carriage bolts: use old holes or make new ones? We had a five-minute meeting with our neighbor, Home Improvement style, over the fence line.  It was a meeting that would’ve put Corporate America to shame with the amount of information that we covered in such a short period of time.  We are going to make one new hole for each post  and put the carriage bolt through. We are going to leave the lag bolts where they are currently.  

Our ridge board might be ½  inch too thick (it is) than what the plans called for!!  Do we need to make adjustments in how we cut our rafters?  Will the supports be strong enough with the 2×6? Should we use a 2×8 instead?  Should we order another one? The directions on the plans called for a 2×14”x16 ft but the supports for the beam calls for an inch and a half-inch opening.  I am now assuming that the board, although special ordered, would be the standard size for a two-inch width which is one and a half inches.  Per our sensei, we can still use the big beauty that we have and he will adjust the support piece to accommodate the extra half-inch.  He does not think this will at all affect how our rafters fit.

Laying out the boards for size...
We laid out the square of the floor to see how it looked.

If we could only do this again it would be damn near perfect.  Maybe we can start our own 14×14 construction consulting business after we get this sucker up.  If we can do it, you can too!

In the city we are working on re-homing the sweetest kitty ever in addition to our dealing with our ongoing saga of egg delivery.  Poor Dayz is still having trouble laying her eggs. We are really working to get her an implant to suppress her egg production. Fingers crossed we can get that on board this week or next.  She is one tough duck.

Winter in the City with Ducks

Winter has finally arrived and it is wonderful.  I made it back from week out-of-town for work  just in time to enjoy a snowy weekend in the city. It started snowing Friday night and it kept falling into Sunday.  Our totals were probably only about 6 inches after it was all said and done.

Here again a week later, we are waking up to a fresh blanket of snow.  Since we have been close to the city home for the past couple of weekends I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share what we have learned about keeping domestic ducks in the winter.

Most of what I have learned is courtesy of Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily (@fresheggsdaily). Thanks, Lisa! If you are interested, I encourage you to read up on the topic to make sure you are getting the facts.  It is fascinating to learn about their special physiology that allows them to jump into a cold pond in the middle of winter: Why don’t duck feet freeze?.  

It is just now the coldest it has been since we have had them, and as a result of what I have learned about how cold tolerant they are, I am taking the recommended measures to protect them against the “below 20 degree Fahrenheit” threshold. The heated water dog bowl is getting its inaugural use today (which they seem to love) and I beefed up their house last night with a couple of full flakes of straw to take up some empty space and add to insulation.  Although the outside temp is about 10 in the sun, it is at least several degrees warmer in their house. We will toss in a couple of more flakes of straw in their house, as it is only going to get colder tonight.  While their coop door is open, I draped a towel to cover the opening and keep some cold air out.  


I should clarify that the water bowl is in their run.  One thing I can say with confidence, is that you should never put water inside their house when it is super cold out (or ever, in general)  since it can cause a situation where things will get wet and they will possibly get frostbite.

I fed them some warm oatmeal with peanuts and raisins (which honestly, they haven’t eaten yet) to help raise their body temperature.  I think i will offer some warm pea soup later. That, I can be certain they will love.

Finally, in their outdoor run, I spread out some straw on top of the snow to give them something to step on that is not directly on the cold ground.  I even tossed in a nice piece of wood for them to sit on if they wish. I want them to have options. Above it all, I am so happy to be home so I can keep a close eye on them.  These are the first super cold days that I have had them for, so I feel like this is a great time to establish a baseline with them. It is time to learn what this group in particular needs to get them through this special time of year.


Do your homework.  I have been using Google, consulting my print resources (Duck Eggs Daily)  and asking questions to the Instagram duck community to get this right.  You don’t know what you don’t know, so reach out to get the information you need.

Winter Solstice 2018

Worry not friends, the days are once again getting longer. See how fast that was? The spring flowers will be peeking out of the cold soil before you know it. Celebrate! That’s what we did.  We had a beautiful solstice meal with our farm family and friends and celebrated by the fire under the full moon light.

Last year we spent the weekend happily sequestered in the tipi with the kitties.  Tux was getting medicine for his ear, so we took them with us.  Since there is no real door in the tipi, we were sort of tasked to keeping them inside for the weekend.  The last morning we were there, there was a swarm of birds circling the tipi taunting Mittens and Tux from outside.   It was beautiful.  I think this was the weekend we realized how much we needed a door.  Fast-forward to today.

Cabin Corner

A friend came out and graciously helped us finish digging our holes.  THANK YOU!  The gravel ended up being delivered directly to our area by the gravel guy.  I found out from him that we live in the middle of the hill, by the way.  This delivery was a bit of a Christmas miracle and saved us some heavy moving that we would have otherwise had to do to get the gravel down there from the metal barn.  Thank you sir! He happened to live in the neighborhood so it was nice to make that connection.  We saved his number in case we need another “Bobcat” kind of job done.

The order for the foundation materials has been submitted and is now scheduled to be delivered on New Years Eve.  I think it is safe to say that we are pretty excited about this.

Gadget Corner

The Biolite camp stove is going back.  A second opinion confirmed that the device, although smart in function (it charges a battery with heat), takes too much attention to keep it going.  We may instead save for something like the Yeti, Goal Zero.  It has a place to plug-in small electronics.  This will suit us better than charging a phone with a small fire.


Trust in the universe sometimes.  Every once in a while it will come through.  I almost called the gravel guy to cancel the delivery because I thought it would be too much trouble for him to get it to us.  With some patience, we ended up faring better than originally planned.  We will take every win we can get and you should too.

Giving Thanks, Cliche, Cliche…

Thanksgiving is here again.  I am grateful.

Here is my list:

I am thankful for my wife. She is patient and kind.  You know, like that Bible verse thingy that everyone quotes at their wedding.  I should go on, but I will just tell her instead.M and P

I am grateful for my family.  Go and say what you will of yours (I hope you think yours is the best too), but, I am convinced that all of my siblings (in-laws included) are the best of any.  We have some pretty darn great friends too. You know who you are. Thank you all!

Our pets are amazing.  We have two beautiful kitties and four beautiful ducks.  Shoot, I am even still thankful for all of the pets who have passed.  Each one was so very special in their own way.

Every single day our pets (or, friends whose language we have yet to master, if you will) are clearly so happy to have us home.  Think about it. Every person you have ever known in your life has not been beside themselves with joy EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU COME HOME.  Like jumping for joy happy. Not just, “Yay, they are here.” More like, “Holy hell!!! You came back AGAIN! Yay!” Never once have I picked up the, “Eh, you didn’t have to come home so soon” , vibe.

I feel those loving sentiments from the cats towards both of us.  They may not greet us like a dog, every time we come home, by panting by the front door with a wagging tail, but they show an affection that is just full of love.  Sometimes it is in the form of a bread knead, or maybe just a kitty by your side throughout the night. The ducks are the same. They shriek for joy every time we walk outside. If they are out towards the back of the yard, they will come running.  I know, it is probably just for food, but let me have this moment.


While we are on this topic, let’s think of some reactions that we never get from our pets, with few exceptions, of course.   

Annoyance.  Anger.  Fear.  Hate.  Aggression.  Deceit.  Disappointment.


I am not suggesting that we must eliminate these feelings towards one another, as humans (although, we should probably work towards that, even if we never get there).  What I am implying is, that we give our pets a little more credit for being so perfect and pure. That is no small feat for us to do, but they do it with grace and ease.  I digress…

I am thankful that I can spell grateful. That came later in life than I would like to admit, but, there you go.  We all can’t know everything at once. I just happened to need to know how to make homemade meatballs and sauce before knowing how to spell that word.  #worthit

It is hard for me to admit being thankful for material things, but thank goodness for this amazing house and for our amazing tipi.  To make it worth it, we try to take care of our homes so that they last longer to reduce the need for more “things”.


Make sure to express your thanks everyday.  Thank your people and thank your pets. Thank the ones who are closest to you.  No one could make it through this world alone. Appreciate everyone who helps to nudge you along, every little step of the way.  Happy relaxing and safe travels!

June and I
June and I, post foot bath. We are still working on our cuddle stance.