Sunday, March 1, 2015

Homestead Happenings

Although I have been ridiculously absent from the blogosphere, I have been busy and productive in most others areas of my life.  We have had an unusually mild winter and our February even bordered on spring-like.  Because of the unseasonably warm weather, out of door projects have called our name and we have answered!

As most of you know, we lost our beloved Tibetan Mastiff dog "Reaper" to a horrific homestead accident last summer.  We have missed him terribly and have chosen not to get another dog... until now.  Next Sunday a new little homestead guardian will arrive!  We have named him Lowen and he carries the lineage of our "Reaper".  Lowen is an 8 week old Tibetan Mastiff - and he has very large paws to fill!  In preparation for our little guardian, we have been busy building a "dog den", rather than a typical  dog house.  Borrowing Sep Holzer's permaculture method of housing animals, we dug a hillside out and built a log structure into the hill and backfilled the "den".  We still need to finish the top with plywood and tar paper before we cover the den completely with dirt, leaving only the entrance exposed.  We are very interested to see how he likes his "den" and if he uses it.  At this point we think he will use it far more in the heat of summer than he ever does during the winter months!

Sir Night and Maid Elizabeth digging the hole

Maid Elizabeth has help!

Master Hand Grenade breaking ground

The finished hole (about 4 x 4)

The first two courses (butt and pass method)

Going up!

Beginning the roof

The roof is on - it's just awaiting plywood, tar paper and dirt
When he hasn't been working outside, Sir Knight has been organizing his new mobile tool box.  Over the years, Sir Knight has used and worn out numerous "road" boxes.  After his latest one disintegrated we decided to invest in something that would hold up better than its previous counterparts.  Enter the Pelican 0450 tool box.  It is completely waterproof, impact resistant and mobile.  It has wheels and a telescoping handle as well as two carry handles.  For the last week, Sir Knight has been cutting foam and arranging his tools and this week he will be putting his new mobile tool box into service.  I think it's a thing of beauty!

Tools laid out (with the marking pen and knives) to mark for cutting (each tray is a drawer)

Marking around the tools

Adjusting the knife to the depth of the tool (to cut into the foam at the correct depth)

Making the cut

Removing the foam

Just right!

One tray (drawer) finished - with room for more tools

The tool box closed - it is water proof and shock proof!

Carry handles

Rolls easily on integrated wheels

Telescoping handle
About a year and a half ago my Dad built a beautiful, rustic outhouse for me.  I was so excited!  We had a friend come in with a tractor and use his auger to dig a large hole over which we positioned the outhouse.  After using the outhouse for about 3 months, we noticed that the dirt was filling in the hole at an alarming rate.  The spring after the outhouse went into service, we were dismayed to realize that the outhouse hole was not only covering the waste but it was trying to digest the outhouse itself!  We quickly put long boards under the house to keep it from sinking into the ground but that resulted in a rocking outhouse.  We knew we had to come up with a better solution!  After considering many options, we decided that we needed to dig a hole just big enough to house a drum or barrel, cut holes in the bottom of the barrel (for drainage) and fit the barrel into the hole.  Then, we would move the outhouse over the barrel and position it on solid ground so the disturbed soil wouldn't try to eat the outhouse.  Armed with shovels and a plan, Master Calvin, Princess Dragon Snack and I dug a new hole, filled it with 4 inches of drain rock and positioned our barrel in the hole. With our truck, we drug the outhouse (it was built on skids) over the barrel, straightened it up and shimmed it to make it level.  After filling in the other hole completely, we have a fully functional outhouse that we hope will serve us well for many years.  And, I must admit, I sure like having two bathrooms again!

That's a little guy urinal in the corner

The new hole and barrel (plastic is draped inside to keep any leakage from the front)
Last fall, before the cold of winter descended upon us, we moved the bee's into their new "bee house" (it used to be our chicken coop) in an attempt to successfully over-winter them.  Our plan was to follow in our European counterparts footprints and have a house for the bees that would keep them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.  As of March 1st, we still have two very healthy hives that look like they will be going into spring ready to make honey!

Hives in the Bee House
I hope you are all having a wonderful, productive winter/spring!  Until next time....


  1. I am so glad to see a new post. I have really missed all of your comments on everything. Thank you!

  2. Oh! So very nice to hear from you! I miss your posts when absent but realize, there is life beyond the blog. That's why there is a blog! ha! I will have to share the Bee House w/my hubby. We insulated our hives this year. He, too, has read about the bee houses and given it some thought. Thank you so much for sharing! :o)

  3. Enola, I have missed your postings so much. Check everyday after Rural Revolution to see how you all are doing. Glad that everyone is okay. I appreciate your take on everyday living and the affairs of the world but especially your Godly wisdom.

    1. Enola, I too am glad to see another post from you and to hear how things are going.

    2. Same here Anonymous 9:37. It's Enola crew and Rural Revolution with our coffee every morning.
      Montana Guy and Montana Gal

  4. Your weather looks marvelous! It is still below zero most nights up here and lots of snow on the ground in Maine.

    Your 'dog house' made me laugh! Our Ovcharkas are also too big for dog houses, so we make them loafing sheds like a horse would get, and line it with grain bags, up high. Our dogs have to guard at night as well, so we can't have them too well protected or they can't see or hear predators.

    Glad to see you back up!

  5. Enola,

    It's nice to see you back my friend. I'm always excited to read your posts about updates on your homestead and family. I was sorry to hear about Reaper, accidents happen.

    What a fabulous dog house, at first I though you were making a root cellar :-)
    Congratulations on getting a new pup. Lowen will fit right in on the homestead and will appreciate his new cabin.

    Pelican cases are amazing, and hold up very well. Hubby has a gun case, and just loves it.
    Hugs to you and your family.

  6. Enola - so glad to hear about your activities. Miss you when you are absent but like others have said, I understand how real life takes priority. Cheering you on. SJ in Vancouver BC

  7. I wish I had known Sir Knight was having trouble finding a road box that would take a beating and still last I would have suggested something. Funny thing is that his solution is exactly what I would have suggested; down to the exact box it is the same one we use in our planes whenever we travel cross-country! The military is hard on planes and tool boxes. He has made an excellent choice!

  8. Your posts are always wonderful and eagerly awaited.

  9. What kind of "logs" are those? what are they called?

  10. You guys HAVE been busy! Love the dog house (would make a good root cellar, too) and the tool box is very impressive. Will look forward to a picture of Lowen in the future.

  11. I'm impressed by the outhouse - a great way to eliminate the use of scarce water for flushing during our 4th year of drought in the northern part of the PRK (Peoples Republic of Kalifornia).

    Hangtown Frank

  12. How did Reaper die? Hearing about accidents is a learning experience....(we just got a dog) I'm sorry it happened.