Log Splitter

Yardmax Log Splitter

When you buy a new property you plan for many expenses.  You also know that you will have unexpected expenses and the log splitter was of those.  We had a dozen or so trees on the property that had to come down before they fell during a storm and hit a car or building.  But luckily they were punky wood and we were able to use them in the raised bed garden.  But one of the things that we found easy to do in the city was call up tree trimming companies and have them drop off their shredded “trash” that we could use around the house instead of buying mulch.  Free!  Is isn’t as pretty as what you buy, but we used so much in our landscaping,  that we just didn’t care.  We would buy a couple of pretty bags to put on top to finish it off.  But the thick layer was down and free.

When we moved out here, we knew we needed lots and lots of mulch to help amend our sand.  I started calling around and didn’t find many companies that would deliver out here in the boonies.  I needed some immediately to help fill in my garden bed and put around the beds to make them look nice.  So I had to go buy my first load.

Free Wood

Then I got lucky and and found someone who would deliver a load to me, free.  But he said it would have some logs included.  No problem.  We have a fireplace.  We have a fire pit.  Bring it on out.

Wood for the new log splitter

We need a log splitter: NOW!

We did a little bit of research and decided that we needed a 27 ton splitter.  When we went to buy it, they didn’t offer it in our area, so we got a Yard Max 28 ton for the same price that we were looking at.   As we told you about in out mower article, you cannot get an 18 wheeler down our driveway.  We met the truck on road.  He put the crate in our pickup and we brought it out to the barn area.  When you order one of these off season and get it delivered, you have to assemble it.  It will take at least 2 or 3 men to put this thing together.  It is not difficult, it is just heavy and unwieldy to handle.

Looking forward to winter!

We got a beautiful load of mulch and a ton of wood.  Lots of wood.  We have split about 3 cords of wood from our first delivery.  We need lots more mulch so we are expecting more wood.  This log splitter makes it so easy to do.

From this stack of Wood

The above stack of wood become the stack below!

Wood Pile from Log Splitter

Wood Pile from Log Splitter

The Lawn Mower

Cub Cadet

We moved from a zero lot line house where we had landscaped away ALL the grass, every last blade!  We had gotten rid of all our lawn equipment.  And here are with 20 acres.  Now granted, we are going to have to either have someone come in an mow and bale most of it, but still there are two yards and the perimeter areas that need to be kept up regularly.  So it became very obvious that one of our first major purchases was going to have to be a riding lawn mower.

Google Map Your Land!

Thank goodness for google maps.  We were able to look at our property and see exactly how much of our land is pond, buildings, forest, pasture and what we need to mow ourselves.  In our case, we have about 3 acres that we need to mow.

Research

I started researching mowers in the 3 acre category.  We needed a 22 to 24 HP 48 to 50 inch deck.  While a 0 turn radius would have been nice, there are just too many other items on our need list to justify to added expense.  So we went with the regular 16 inch turn radius mower.  I read all the reviews.  And I have to tell you, they were all over the place and I never really found a truly consistent  review on anything.

24 HP Cub Cadet XT1 LT50 Hydrostatic Transmission

I finally, just had to make a decision and based on the best I could find vs price etc, decided on the 24 HP Cub Cadet XT1 LT50 with Hydrostatic Transmission.  50 inch Deck.  Went with the little bit bigger on since we are the upside of the sized property and want it to last as long as possible.

Delivery

Life in the country is different than the city, when it come to deliveries.   Our house is at the back of the property and it is a quarter of a mile of dirt road to the house.  The turn into the drive isn’t an easy one.  We have to leave the gate open when FedEx or UPS is expected.  The mailman will not drive up to the house except under extreme duress!  UPS delivers after 7pm!

 

We bought the mower from the local Big Box store and they did not have it in stock so it had to be delivered. We knew the 18 wheeler could not make the turn up our road.  We were in touch with dispatch and were waiting by the mailbox when the driver arrived.  He took the mower off the truck with his lift and there we were.  A mower on two separate pallets on the side of the road.

 

NO DIRECTIONS!

There were no directions included on how to remove the mower from the pallets and honestly, I can’t tell you an easy way to do.  You just have to dis-assemble the pallet and push it off.

First Drive

But we have a video of us putting all stuff you have to put on the mower and taking our first drive.

Cub Cadet on the Ranch

 

The Chicken Coop

Chicken Coop Up-Sized!

The coop is inside the barn/stable.  We do not plan on ever having horses, so we use the barn for storage.  It also seemed like the perfect place for the girls to be safe and warm.  So the run is built right outside of the barn with an automatic door leading out.

Chicken Coop in stable being secured against predators

Nesting Boxes

Nesting boxes in New Chicken Coop

We are planning on about a dozen chickens, so I built 6 nesting boxes (in case we get more).  Probably way too many, but its easier to build them all at once then to add more later.  It is a simple wood build using materials that I had on hand.

Roosting Bar

I built the roosting bars out of 2 x 4  wood.  The girls will sit on  4 inch wood so their feet will be flat and covered from below. This keeps their feet warm.  I built the roosting bar on a hinge so I can lift it up to clean.  Under the roost I built a poop hammock that I can remove and take out to clean.

Roosting Bar with hinge to lift and clean. Poop hammock attached for easy cleaning.

The Floor

The floor was covered in wood shavings, but that is so dusty, I will remove that and cover it with sand.  This removes that dust and makes it easy to clean up with a kitty scoop.

New Chicken Coop in the Barn

New Chicken Coop in the Barn

Hope you enjoy the tour

The Chicken Run

The Chicken Coop

We had a very unusual sale of our old house.  The chickens had to stay!  We hated to leave them behind, they really were more pets than anything, but in the end, it was for the best.  We did not have a coop at the new place, so this kept them safe and gave us time to build a new coop in due time.  We decided that we upsized our property from a zero lot line to 20 acres, we needed to up-sized our home for the “new girls”.

Exercise is Important

At our old house, the girls had free range of our backyard during the day.  We had a hill that they loved to climb, so even though it was small, they got lots of exercise.  I built a small run so they had shelter in bad weather and they had a coop made from an old playhouse.  You can see the old coop here.  Our four girls were safe in suburbia.

Free Range?

Now out here in the country (we are nine miles from town) we have a few more predators to worry about.  We have also decided to have a few more girls than before, probably around a dozen or so.  We want them to be as free range as possible but still be safe.  So we compromised on a 700 square foot run.  We will probably let them out of the run to play when we are out and about, just not all the time.

Predator Safe

We built the run out 1/2″ hardware cloth all around, top and down the sides buried two feet out.  This prevents any animals from being able to dig their way into the run.  The cloth is 4 feet wide, so we worked with 16 foot long boards.  We used cedar posts that had been cut and left on the property from the previous owner.

As you can see from the photos.  The roof was our hardest element in the build.  The run is on a slope.  We just put us a board with a stop for the roll on top and a stop on the bottom to keep it lined up away we went.  It goes really smooth with two people.  We also found that using a scaffold is helpful.

Chicken Run with Cedar posts and roof frame

Hardware cloth buried

Closeup of stops for roof setup for Chicken Run Build

Our Roofing Setup to build Chicken Run

Adding roof to Chicken Run

 

Automatic Door

Chicken Guard Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener

We cut a hole in the metal barn. This was the hardest thing I had to do.  It wasn’t hard to do physically, it was just hard to cut a hole in a good building.  But I knew this was the best solution for run/coop setup.  We covered the hole with wood, so the girls will not be cut.  We decided to go with an automatic door since the barn is a fair distance from the house and we wanted to make sure the girls could get in and out when they wanted.  This door is programmable by either time or light sensor.  We have it set by sensor.  We will write a review of this product once we have the girls set up and we see how it works out.

 

Chicken Feeder

We left our old feeder with the girls at our old house (condition of our sale was to leave our chickens and coop behind).  Since we plan on more than 4 chickens, we also wanted to up- size the size of the feeder.  We went with the Grandpa feeder that holds 40 pounds of feed and is supposed to be rat proof.  Again, we will review this product as soon as we have some experience with it.

Chicken Waterer

We are also trying out a new system of water for the girls, so stayed tuned for more info on that.  We also like to have a place for them to play in the water.  We just had a tub of water at our old house, but have upgraded to a kiddie pool.  We will let you know if they like it or not.

Perches

We have a variety of perches for the girls, including an area, where the dominate girl can reign over everyone else.  Can’t wait to meet her!

Please watch our YouTube video to see a tour of the door, feeder, watering system and the perches.  Thank you and see you soon!

Garden

The Garden

After gardening on a zero lot line property for over 30 years, I was very excited at the unlimited possibilities of gardening on 20 acres.

Reality

Gopher’s, Deer, Sand

The reality hit me really quick: first it was the sand.   We are talking pure sand.  Beach kind of sand.  Great for drainage.  Nutrients in the soil, not so much!  Then we can talk about the gophers.  Sometimes you can look out at the field and it looks like an old world war two practice bombing field.  Craters everywhere.  Then deer.  We love deer.  They are so sweet to look at.  People come out to visit and we tell them we have deer and and they ask if they can come shoot them.  We say sure, as long as it is with a camera.  But seriously, they can really hurt a garden.  So bad soil, gopher’s to eat the roots and deer to eat the tops.  Great garden potential.

Solution One: Gophers

So the first line of defense is raised bed garden, with a 1/2 inch hard cloth underneath..

Bottom of Raised Bed Garden

Solution Two: Sand

I am doing the hugelkultur method that I have used before.  I have topped it with compost and potting soil that I picked up on clearance at the end of the season last year.

Raised bed Huglekultur Garden

We treated the wood with the Shou Sugi Ban Method to hopefully make the plywood last a long time.

Raised Bed garden with Shou Sugi Ban Plywood

Solution Three: Deer

To keep the deer and birds at bay I will building a structure like the chicken run with deer netting.  It will be enclosed on all sides as well as the top.   It will be next to the run and they will share a wall and I will have a door from the garden to the run.  When the garden is done at the end of the year, I can let the chickens in to clean up the old plants.  Treat for them!

We have started with two raised beds, but I will be enclosing enough area for a total of 5 large beds.

Huglekultur beds are ready for planting

We’ve Moved!

We Moved

While I can’t say that we have not planned for this, it still happened in a very quick and sudden way: all good, mind you- but still still very quick.

A Dream

We have dreamed of owning property all of our married life, well, at least 20 of the 36 years.  I mean, who really has 4 chickens in a zero lot line yard unless they are dreaming of more?

So we had been updating our house slowing over the last five years.  We just always found one more thing that needed to be done.

Collections

Then, there was the STUFF!  20 years of collecting stuff.  I am talking more than a Dr Pepper collection or a vintage cane collection (guilty of both plus many more).   I am talking “lets pick that up, we might need that on the property someday” collection.  So we had stacks of wood, cinderblocks, tons of nails from garage sales, etc, etc, etc!  It was just so overwhelming.  I mean seriously, who does this?  Collect so much stuff for a future dream, that you have so much stuff that the thought of moving it is almost paralyzing?  how stupid, right?  Welcome to my life!

Again, we lived in a zero lot line 1800 sq ft home on a hill.  The garage had been converted into a bedroom so my dad could live with us.  We ran a business from home, so we had rented storerooms for work and tools.  I am not even going to admit to how many and how much money we were wasting!

Kick in the Pants

So my wife finally reached a point last April 20th.  She said we are putting the house on the market by August 20th or we are just going to admit that we will never move and we will start getting rid of all the stuff.

She is really smart, it was the kick in the pants that we needed.  We have always worked best with a deadline.  We finished all the house projects, called a real estate agent and got the house on the market 3 days before her deadline.

Sold

Then we sold the house in 3 days.  OH $#!!

We had not even started looking for our dream home.  Now we had exactly one month to find the dream and move the STUFF!  EVERYTHING!

So we drew a 2 hour circle around the DFW area (we still needed to be close to work) on Zillow and set out our priorities on what we really wanted.  While we thought we would be willing to go any direction, when push came to shove, we only “found” houses to look at in East Texas.  We found a total of 5 properties to look at.  We spent one week, found the dream, made an offer and here we are…

The DREAM

20 acres, pond, workshop, barn, nice house with view of pond, and the bonus was a barndomium so our son could come live out here with us and run his youtube business as well.

Our first major projects will be a garden and chicken coop…..so stay tuned.

Video – How To: Trailer Security

Video – How To: Trailer Security

Trailer Security

 

Today we are looking at how I protect my investment in my trailers to deter would be thieves. We are looking at the different types of locks used for trailer doors, wheel locks, and the most important in my book, the Coupler Lock (other wise known as the tongue lock). We have used different locks over the years, and we have found these to be our picks.

You can pick up these locks at the links below.

 

 

Trimax Hockey Puck Locks

 

Trimax Hockey Puck Locks - Click for the link to buy

Trimax Wheel Lock

Trimax Wheel Lock - Click for the link

Proven Locks 2516 AS – All Steel – Heavy Duty Design – Anti Theft Trailer Coupler Lock

Proven Locks 2516 AS - All Steel - Heavy Duty Design - Anti Theft Trailer Coupler Lock - Click the images to buy now