Saturday, November 8, 2014

# 536 - Country House - Dream Home Confirmation!

One of the houses that we considered for our own country home was personally toured a couple months ago, and the moment we drove up, we knew this house was right for us.

The house has the potential look I have dreamed about, and the floorplan had been just right with a bit of customization.

The major thing I knew that I wanted changed from the house I toured would be the exterior siding. The one we toured has a "log-cabin" rustic finish, but I want ours to have hardy-cement siding painted white and the front windows to be white divided light-framed and spaced just right so that they can be accented with black shutters.

But, I had such unsettled feelings about how this particular house would look with white siding and black shutters. Was I making a big, ugly mistake?

Then, by chance, I came across an almost IDENTICAL floorplan on one of Martha Stewart's Pinterest boards! The front porch is even the same with the extra large side porch, which we have already drawn to have door instead of a window that leads from the Master bedroom.

My jaw dropped open. I even liked the roof color on this house.

It was as if a MASSIVE sign crossed my path, confirming my mental picture for this house to be exactly as I thought it would be...PERFECT for us!

I had been apprehensive that this house design would not look right with my exterior preference, but this house proves it will be just fine!

Our house plans have an extra dormer and it does not have the chimney in the center. In those regards, I prefer our house plan more than the other.

In fact, we are thinking of not building a standard fireplace, but putting in a vented wood burning stove as a back-up to heat the house. After all, our acreage has PLENTY of firewood available to fuel the wood-burning stove. The only problem I'd have to figure out is the placement of the stove and the design that would include a decorative wrought iron surround to keep little arms and hands away from the hot metal.

Since our main heating for the house will be electric, I would also like to have an "off the grid" option for heating the house, but my oldest daughter thinks I should build a regular fireplace. However, wood-burning fireplaces do let more smoke through the house, even if built properly.

Regardless, I am feeling extra wonderful about this house. Things are coming together, as they should. It's been a long road to build a custom home on our acreage in the country, but worth it.

# 535 - Incubator Chicks Hatching!

This past week, we have been shocked to find that our first attempt at using the incubator has been a success! We actually had hatchlings this week!

The first chick to start pecking through an egg brought me tremendous excitement. WHAT? It's really working?!

This egg is the first to have a chick start to hatch. Sadly, this chick
was obviously hatching prematurely, and this chick died after the first
24 hours following hatching.
Of course, we had a couple of eggs that didn't make it. We had to candle the eggs, which is really easy to do, then take out the eggs that did not contain a growing chick.

But, we missed this one, and it soon began to be a potential mess, so I removed it quickly.

After a while, I could see that the first egg that had begun to hatch was having problems. Soon, the chick behind it began to hatch.

To my surprise, the second hatching chick would be the first to fully hatch. The concern for the first chick that was trying to hatch became more intense. The chick was peeping loudly from the first egg that was not making progress, as hour after hour passed.

I also knew we needed to remove the egg holders, so we did it quickly because I was scared it would hurt the chicks.

The process of hatching seems to go like this, in my experience...I first heard peeping, which scared me as I looked around the room carefully and then it dawned on me that the sound was actually coming from the incubator, even though the shell had not yet been cracked. The chicks peck an initial hole, then they make a "zipper" line, and if all goes well, the chick pushes the top of the shell upward with a burst of mighty strength and then they are BORN!

The chick works to hatch itself, then falls asleep, then suddenly perks
up and wiggles around, then falls back asleep. It is precious.

However, this in an exhausting process for the chick, it will peck for a while, then sleep, then peck, then sleep, and it can take a few hours. Then again, there are other chicks, as our third chick, who pecked the initial hole and was fully hatched with ten minutes.

Since we had no idea these eggs would be hatching, Sgt. Dave and I had no choice other than to work very quickly together to get the egg-rotator out of the incubator. I carefully cradled the chick so that it would not be pulled any direction that would affect hatching, he took out the rotator and I carefully laid the hatching chick back on the grate for it to finish its hard job of being born.

I must say, it was an unexpected, yet amazing experience to hold a hatching chick, but not one I want to do again. It was completely nerve-wracking, but I didn't want the chick to be caught in between the rotator trays. Back in the incubator, after another hour or so, it hatched face down and fell back asleep as we cracked up.

Sweet baby.

This chick would be the first to hatch and is now strong and healthy!

This is how an egg shell looks after a chick hatches from it...the top of the shell that is white is the air bubble area where the chick's head had been and is the zone for it to start pecking the zipper.

The other 2/3rds of the egg shell had a membrane that had blood vessels, kind of like a placenta. This membrane holds the chick's blood circulatory system until the final stage of hatching as the chick develops its own vessel system and the blood can be absorbed into its own body. This is fascinating to me. There is also a yolk sac at the bottom of the chick's body that is absorbed before hatching and that provides nutrients so the chick can recover from hatching over the next 24-48 hours...this egg yolk goes into the body of the chick and the abdominal hole is closed. If this process is not complete before hatching, you will likely have a chick that won't survive. You can see the "umbilical cord."

God's plan with nature is so incredible! I'm glad we had an incubator to help it along.

The little black feathered chick was the first to crack the shell and to zip, yet it was still in the shell nearly 24 hours later, with its peeping becoming more faded and weak. I researched the matter and found that chicks can literally get stuck in their shell. I checked the egg and found the area that the chick zipped was as hard as glue...the chick and the shell felt as if glue had dried everything in place. The solution was to slowly and gently rub warm water on the area and to even use Neosporin to keep the area moist and hydrated because the water will still eventually evaporate. I had Neosporin and helped the chick out a bit so it could move again.

Even with the assistance it needed; the fact that the chick needed ANY assistance was a really bad sign. After the chick came out, the yolk sac was still attached and to make a long, horrific process short, I will say that the egg sac suddenly filled to enormous proportions and I knew that the internal parts of the chick had prolapsed...the intestines were soon visible.

It broke my heart. The chick lived about 24 hours. It was a very difficult Farm Life Lesson.

All I could do was make the chick as comfortable as possible and to keep it protected from the healthy chick pecking, especially because we had a third chick making a rapid hatch.

As the third chick hatched, the strong, dried out, found-its-legs chick was in a pecking mode, so I put the newly hatched chick into the bowl with the chick that was struggling. This seemed to work out. Soon, the newly hatched chick could join the other strong chick.

The good thing is that out of the first three chicks we have ever hatched with the incubator, two are thriving.

I am very grateful these two chicks have each other as cuddle-buddies.

This Farm Life Lessons chick loves those two little fuzzy chicks!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

# 534 - Gates - Automatic Options

Getting ready to build the house is super EXCITING!

We are also preparing to do some fencing along with our home construction for several reasons. We have a couple of entrances to our acreage, so we need gates to keep out anyone who might think our private road looks interesting.
Image detail for -Garden Driveway Gate Picture - Ranch Driveway Gates
Online Photo Idea - I like this gate.
We also want our main gate that leads to the house to have an electronic gate opener. I prefer for the gate to have remote controls that will automatically open the gates and to buy extra remotes to give to our daughters. So, we are researching electronic gate contraptions along with pricing.

Years ago, I sold a farm and ranch property that had a solar panel on the gate that provided entrance onto the acreage. My client told me that the entire set-up had cost him nearly $2,000. but it had been a huge mistake. He said the gate having an ability to auto-open is MOST critical on foul weathered days...during storms, rain and mucky weather, but the solar panel would not allow the gate to be reliable on the worst weathered days, which kind of defeated the entire point of having a gate that could be opened remotely and electronically.

Also, the solar system was rather fragile. So, that is not going to be a solid option for us, especially since our area is heavily forested and bad weather can make forested debris a true concern.
Automatic gate opener on driveway gate. Love this
Another gate that is similar to what we are looking at, but in a maroon color.
We looked around at Tractor Supply, but could not find any system for sale. I believe it might be best to go through a manufacturer of gate openers, directly. But, I am not certain.

Of course, we want a hardy, durable, adequate powered electronic gate opener so that it will work nicely and efficiently for as long as possible.

Since we do not want trespassers, nor do we even want uninvited guests showing up without calling in advance (yes, I am old-fashioned in that regard), we will need to get our gates installed. I am also considering a device to allow monitoring of the gate with a speaker. It might be best to buy an entire system...I will soon find out. Even if the system has a keypad at the entry, that would be okay as well.

Any advice about what to watch out for with entrance gates, what to avoid, what works...I am always very eager to hear what you have to say!