Monthly Archives: June 2017

D.I.Y. Backyard Oasis Part 3

In the last two posts I covered the fireplace and the porch. To me the fence ties everything together so I wanted a design that had a bit of my pergola and the porch as well as the storage shed. Sounds easy right? I had a lot of ideas in my head but since I was building it all instead of buying pre made panels, I didn’t want it to be too difficult.

I decided on tin and lattice with 4”x4” posts stained to match the porch and the fence is actually the back wall of the porch.

Here is another angle.

And a closer shot of the fence.

My son got me some coffee bean bags where he works so I thought that would add to it.

There you have it. I’m very pleased with the way it turned out! I haven’t finished staining everything yet but we have been able to enjoy it several times. My whole family enjoys being outside by the fire when its cool or in the shade when its hot so this made perfect sense for us.

I hope this gave you some ideas for your own back yard. I just started with an idea and worked on it a little at a time.

Happy trails!


D.I.Y. Back Yard Oasis Part 2

After building the fireplace I decided to put in a covered porch with stained concrete floor. I like the rugged look of 6×6 poles so I used those for the supports and went with a tin roof to tie it in with the new fence.

Here is a look with the tin on before I put the sides up.

Here are the guys pouring the floor. I hired that part done because I’m not skilled or equipped enough to do that.

I stained the floor myself, there are a lot of good videos about how to do this. I watched a few of them and its really easy on new concrete

I added an outdoor ceiling fan and a light under the porch.

I finished the porch last fall and sitting by the fire on a cool evening with a s’more on a graham cracker is pretty hard to beat!

It’s really nice for family time or entertaining friends. If you are thinking about and outdoor area I would highly recommend it. You could even do it in stages to spread out the costs and still enjoy each piece of it along the way.

Stay tuned for the fence and finished product pictures.

Happy trails.


D.I.Y. Back Yard Oasis

This is the first in a three part series on how I transformed our back patio into a functional inviting and peaceful extension to our living area.

Whether you want to cook or sit by the fire or swim or relax in the shade, this is our go to place.

We live on a farm and one thing about having an acreage is you have to put up a fence or a border to keep things from getting out of hand. If you don’t, they will be too big and time consuming to maintain. We have had a pool for about 25 years so the logical first step for me was to make this border the pool and tie it together. I wanted to build an outdoor fireplace and we have an old cut stone smokehouse on the place so I made the hearth out of some of those stones.

I brought the dirt to grade and then poured a footer and started cementing blocks in place.

The dog was very helpful!

You can see the old fence to the right. It was definitely time to replace it.

After I finished all the block work I put on rock veneer that was really easy to install. The rock in the foreground was the original cap rock on the smokehouse chimney. Kinda cool, all hand hewn and shaped rocks.

Here is the rock going up.

My lovely assistant.

It passed the cat inspection too.

And there is the finished product

I bought half blocks so I didn’t have to cut blocks. I did have to cut a few of the rocks and I used a tile saw that worked great. Really a level, a trowel and something to mix concrete in is all you need for this project. Stay tuned for the porch and fence.

Happy trails!


5 Things I wish I’d Known Before I Started Raising Chickens

A few months ago we decided to order some meat birds and a few laying hens to replace our aging hens as needed. We have always bought older birds close to laying age so starting with day old chicks was definitely a new adventure.

We picked up the baby chicks in April and it was unusually cool this year. The first thing I learned was to get your brooder and heat lamps going and get your temperature adjusted a few days before your chicks arrive. I didn’t and we were scurrying around trying to get the temperature up that first night. The temperature needs to be constant between 90 and 95 degrees measured at the height of the chicks heads. If its too hot or too cold the chick won’t eat or drink. Also you’ll need a good thermometer so you can check the temp often.

Second, if you are planning on bedding them on shavings like I was you’ll need to put paper towels down for the first 3 or 4 days so they won’t eat the shavings. Chicks can’t digest the wood and if they eat it they will die.

Third, when your chicks arrive have your feed and luke warm water already in there and spread some feed out on the paper towels. They will peck around and be sure to find feed that way. As you place the chicks under the brooder, dip each chicks beak in the water so they will know where to find it.


Fourth, give them all the feed they want except for the meat birds. We went with Cornish Rock broilers and after 2 weeks on full feed you will need to start restricting their feed to 3 fifteen minute intervals per day. Leave the waterers in so they have access to good clean water at all times and make sure you have enough feeder space as they grow so they can eat plenty in a short time. These birds grow so fast that if you don’t restrict their intake they will develop water in the body cavity. The meat will grow faster than the bones and they will have broken legs and other problems. It is a lot more work to restrict their feed but it prevents all the problems so its well worth it.

Fifth, these guys drink a lot of water! We got 25 birds and I started with a quart jar and refilled it several times a day. As they got older of course they drank a lot more so I built a nipple waterer out of 3 inch PVC pipe that holds about 3 gallons of water. They learned quickly how to drink from the nipples and that was an easy transition.

This is what they look like at about 5 weeks of age.

Happy trails.


A Guide To Happy Trail Riding

I wanted to give you guys an update on Bob the horse. Just before Memorial day I took him down near the Talimena Drive for a trial ride. I don’t know why it always works this way for me but taking a horse on a ride always seems to develop or strengthen the bond between us and this was no exception.

We arrived in the evening and made camp and woke up to a really cool morning, I had to wear my coat and all the horses were feeling frisky. We had about 10 horses in our group and the camp had about 70 or 80 I would guess. We saddled up and rode to a gathering place to set off up the trail. None of our horses had been around each other before and there was a lot of tension in the air. About that time a group of walking horses came clomping down the asphalt road past us and a few horses in our group humped up a bit.

Now if you think about this cold morning, strange place, strange horses, odd sounds, some horses acting up a bit. This is a recipe for getting bucked off or having a ran away, but Mr Bob handled it all with a great disposition. His curiosity was piqued but he never bobbled and I was impressed.

I decided to take the opportunity to get him accustomed to being ridden with a group so i rode him to the front a few times and then pulled him out and let all the other horses pass. He handled this really well, didn’t get pushy at all wasn’t bothered by being left behind. During lunch breaks I just wrapped my mecate around his neck and tie to a tree and had no issues at all.

Bob learned to eat out of a nose bag and climb steep rocky trails.

It was his first time being ridden shod and he adjusted well to that too. The second day a man rode up beside me who I really respect as a horse trainer and told me he was really impressed with how Bob handled himself. He told me to keep bringing him along really slow and he would make a really nice horse.

Catching a nap after a long day on the trail.
I was super excited with the whole trip and the way Bob got along.

That really was happy trails!