Farm Ornaments

Each year we get a new set of Christmas tree ornaments — one for each member of the family.

This year, Mary Cate and I made the ornaments ourselves.

Mary Cate designed them, I cut them out, and then she painted them.

I wanted to go with just the simple silhouette, but the painted turned out pretty good.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goat Christmas tree ornament before.

Published in: on 1 January, 2010 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Cheese Press

We had a lot of extra milk this summer, so Mary Cate tried her hand at cheesemaking. The results were pretty good, especially for a first attempt.

To facilitate further attempts, I’ve made her a cheese press. It’s designed to put and hold free weights on top.

It’s made from hardwood dowels, oak that I salvaged from some old shelves, and plywood that I salvaged from old church cabinets.

Published in: on 23 December, 2009 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  


This fall, Mary Cate tried tanning leather from our goats to make buckskin. The first hide was, well, a learning experience, but the second one turned out much better.

Part of the tanning process involves scraping flesh away from the skin.

This is a scraper that I’ve made for her. The blade is a 15″ planer blade that I got when the local sawmill shut down. The wood is the same mystery wood I used in the legs of the toy grasshopper .

The blade was too hard for me to drill, so I just epoxied the handle on.

Published in: on 23 December, 2009 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s Grrrrate!

Last year I busted in the back window of my pickup while picking up a load of firewood. Ever since, I’ve been really nervous whenever I’ve loaded anything like that, often coming back with less than a full load instead of risking my window again.

So I needed a grate to protect it. I went down to the local metal recycler and go some old metal railing and some expanded metal grating. I cut it to size, painted it, and attached it to my lumber rack.

I kinda felt like I was in an episode of The A-Team, tankifying up my vehicle for the big battle at the end of the episode.

Published in: on 12 December, 2009 at 2:37 pm  Comments (2)  

Feeding the Bees

Yesterday Mary asked me to make something for the farm. It’s a feeder to put inside the beehives so that when they’re starting out, food is easy to find and plentiful, allowing them to get the hive good and strong. I made six of them.

They’re simple and making them is straightforward, but the neat thing is that I was able to spend an hour in the shop and create $25 worth of value from scrap wood and glue. Usually when I calculate how much I’m “earning” in my shop, it’s far below minimum wage.

Not that I’d want to spend all day making these things, but still.

Bee Feeder

Published in: on 24 June, 2009 at 10:28 am  Comments (2)  


Since we caught a swarm of bees last Friday, I spent all of Saturday building a couple of beehives.

These are top bar hives (a completely different beehive than the standard box hives we’re used to) and they’re four foot long each.

Mary Cate transferred the bees to the new hive, and we’ve got one left over in case we get a chance to catch another swarm this year.

Addition: Mary Cate talks about the bee transfer here.

Published in: on 6 May, 2009 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Critter Hoop Houses

We finished up our latest chicken hoop-house this week. Here’s our four movable animal pens, all in a row:

Hoop Houses

From left to right, they house guinea pigs, laying hens, broiler chickens, and the laying chicks. The last one will be used for turkeys in June.

Published in: on 6 May, 2009 at 7:43 pm  Comments (2)  

New Guineas

We’ve got a band of feral guinea pigs. We had them in an enclosed pen outside, but they all escaped and have been living it up on the land. Those that haven’t been eaten by other critters, that is.

The most dangerous time for the guinea pigs is when they’re young, because then our cats, which we have to keep the rodent population down, will predate them as well. But once they’re big enough, the cats leave them completely alone.

For a while now we’ve been planning on making a nursery for them to keep the ones that are either too young to be safe outside or which have given birth too recently to be safely bred.

Last week my daughter happened to catch one of the guinea pigs that was very pregnant. Instead of letting it go, I brought it inside and have kept it in my office until we can get the nursery finished.

Today the nursery was finished, and just in time, because this is what I saw when I came to my office this morning:

Baby Piggies
Piggies and Mommy

Published in: on 5 May, 2009 at 11:24 am  Comments (1)