Tag Archives: building

BIRDHOUSE FACTORY

I allowed myself to have a part of a day where I just did something that I just wanted to do, instead of needed to be done (like solar re-wiring, or boundary maintenance).  And it was even more glorious than imagined.  I made three flower boxes, and seven birdhouses, although I didn’t get to any decorative ones, just the robust functional ones the birds actually use.

With the participation of Apples the house chicken

They’re headed for the garden fence posts, etc.  Probably too late for this year’s nesters, but who knows. Spring birdhouse maintenance is going to become a day project.

All done

I saw a tree swallow!  The first I’ve seen here!  Exciting.  She was swooping over the hens, eating on the wing.  Spent the day.  I hope she’s nesting!  Possibly in a snag, in an old woodpecker hole maybe.  Perhaps in one of the first run of birdhouses that’s still up, all over.

I want to make another birdhouse tree like this.

Guineas passing through!

I have the tree in mind:)

I want to let my art out, and I’m looking forward to having some of the basic life support systems finished and dialed enough to do some purely decorative things.  There’s a paucity of room for artistic expression around here, when there’s an old shed to take apart, an invasive species that needs constant battling, and irrigating the greenhouse means carrying water when it rains.  Priorities, you know.  But a good day of fun stuff is surprisingly “filling”.For instance, the windows are past due for some attention (caulking, painting), while I’m accessorizing them with flower boxes.  One of these days, we’ll paint, and finish the siding.

Greenhouse, moved.

It was miserable, it was hard.  We almost lost it.  It’s over.  It’s been a rough week.

The verdict is in: it takes just as long to move it as it does to put it up in the first place; the few places where time is saved, particularly that holes are already drilled and not everything needs to come apart, are cancelled out by the places where it takes more time to undo and redo, like wrestling ribs onto pins that have been twice-pounded.  A nightmare.

In theory, a simple series of steps:

Undo all the wiggle wire, drop the skin off to one side.

Detach end walls and lay them down inside.

There’s the pile of associated crap- gutters, gutter mounting lumber, baseboards, doors, screen doors, etc etcPull up one side of mounting pins, and drive them again one greenhouse width to the side.“Walk” the greenhouse over like a 26 legged spider, dragging the endwalls along with.  Remount on pins.Reskin.  Stand up the endwalls.Do all the wiggle wire, reattach baseboards, doors, etc.

A simple series of steps…

In my head.

Hahaha!  Each step beset by setbacks, unforeseen time-consumers, irritations, and risk of injury.  Miserable.

In the space vacated by the greenhouse, the chickens moved right in for a good dirt bath. Least they’re having fun.

Then came the wind….

 

 

 

Habitica has changed my life.

I am pretty fascinated with productivity, data analysis, and habit building. That puts me in very good company.  In fact, I’m feeling like I should be more successful, what with all my habits.  Original post:


It makes no sense.

Habitica is a productivity website/app for organizing based on role playing game software.  Instead of a paper list of things to do which you cross off, with Habitica you create your to-do lists online, and when you click to check items off, you are rewarded with “points”.  These points build up until you achieve the next “level”.  Also, as you meet your real-life goals, you collect “money”, “pets”, and “food” to feed your pets.  Feeding the pets is not mandatory, like a Tamagotchi (thankfully).  The money buys accessories to jazz up your avatar.

My first mount, back when I was just a level 23Let me be clear – the points, levels, pets, and food are all completely virtual.  Imaginary.  Very low-fi pixellated graphics, at that.  The to-do lists you create are real – your own real life.

Totally meaningless “points” and pixellated tiny “pets”, yet somehow this is meaningful enough affirmative feedback to make a difference?  Yes. Yes it is.

It makes no sense, but it works.

I got into Habitica hesitantly; an Icelandic blogger mentioned it, and I thought “why not”.  Coincidentally, I then read the popular and amazing book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit.  The insights about how our brains, memory, and reward mechanisms function explain to me why Habitica works, so damn well.

The Power of Habit explains why Habitica works

There’s limited satisfaction in checking off or crossing off a to-do list item on paper.  One “should” feel satisfaction and accomplishment for having moved one step further towards the life one wants to live, right?  Our brains don’t work like that though.  The future big payoff is meaningless.  The very small incremental difference of checking off the same thing on Habitica, for an imaginary and slightly ludicrous reward? Well, that makes the brain sing.  Sometimes you’re tired, and you just can’t summon up the big picture in the context of which your tiny accomplishment today is in service of.  Click for points?  Satisfaction.  I’ll do it again tomorrow, and all the other tomorrows, until it’s a habit.  Automatic.

The key is there is a reward. Something just external enough to go beyond your own mental pat on the back, and it doesn’t matter that the “reward” is completely imaginary.

There is so much in The Powscreen-shot-2016-12-31-at-1-01-04-pmer of Habit, possibly the best book I read in 2016, that if you care about self-improvement and want to become more effective, just read it.  Forming habits takes work, willpower, and requires reward.  The brain wants to form habits all the time, because once an act is habitual, it takes less mental effort.  The hard part is directing the show, to form the habits that you want to have, that will lead to a more successful, fulfilling life.  The point is to automate the actions that you wish to repeat.  Habits that you want to have won’t form without intentionality.  Enter Habitica, intentionality in three columns.

Habitica’s basic format (the Tasks page) is well-designed and adaptable.  The three columns are: Habits (that you wish to build to increase points, or bad habits that will reduce your points- who would put those?), Dailies (if you fail to complete, your “life force” suffers), and To-Dos (projects and one-offs to tick off).  You can organize your lists with tags and headers, indicate the difficulty of each item, and set schedules or deadlines.  You can break tasks down to checklists, fiddle with the font size and categories (tags). Continue reading Habitica has changed my life.

New bee boxes

I’ve been assembling  bee supers and frames.  They look so nice, all fresh.

The idea is that if the bees are ready to swarm this year (so far they are thriving and vital, so I’m hoping for the best), that there will be a move-in-ready apartment conveniently right next door!

My idea is to leave the bottom super empty, maybe a couple frames in the top box, to be spacious like a swarm box.  Since I haven’t built a swarm box yet, I need to build supers anyway, and I want to have something ready in the event of a sudden swarm, then this is a better-than-nothing measure.

I was assembling frames in my tiny camper, and stocking them outside, when the robber bees arrived.  They were doing their nervous, zigzag robber bee thing, investigating the new wax frames with enthusiasm.

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More and more bees arrived (they were uncannily camera shy though).  I started to get nervous, and promptly put up a box in the field for them to inspect.

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Immediate investigation

They haven’t made any moves on it, but they know it’s there.

This has been such a drab, cold!, protracted spring, that there hasn’t been a day warm enough for me to make a full hive inspection.  I feel like I should.  I am heartened that it takes a long time to find a Varroa mite on the bottom board, they are sucking back the syrup I give them, and they have at least doubled last year’s numbers, judging by the comings and goings.  So far they seem to be caring for themselves quite well.  I hope I can give them a third super in time.

Coop II, the Mini Coop’r

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Thinking about it… thinking some more…

Hatched a plan to make a smaller coop for the silkies.  Coop I is cavernously too spacious for them and they don’t like the big drop from the perch to the floor, a scary 6”(!).

 

So I scaled everything down and reproduced the coop in a 3 x 4’ model, which will be plenty for a silkie flock of a dozen, should they ever get it together to reproduce.  Eggs would be a good start.

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Two down
One down
One down

Some small changes – I made the nest boxes  on the high side instead of the low, over the ramp, which is the whole length of the box to create a very friendly low slope and also make it easier to latch.  I hope smaller boxes with smaller openings that the rooster may not even fit in, higher than the perching area, will be cozier and more appealing to the tiny hens.  The roof will hinge on the low side this time so access is over the boxes for that dreamed-of egg collection.
I added a chicken-spying window so we can peek in at them without lifting the lid.

I retrofit one on the original coop too.

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H.W. loves it.  “Hey in there!  Whatcha doing?  Roosting?  That’s right, I see you!”

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Ha!  We're not in there!
Ha! We’re not in there!

Chicken arrival

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We picked up chickens from some nice people with an impressive menagerie of exotic pheasants, peacocks, and chickens (their amazing place is for sale, too, if anyone is into birds in a big way).  After a mad shrieking (the chickens, not us) scramble to catch the right birds and stuff them (all five together) into a box, we spent some time there visiting, then drove almost an hour home.  They were mostly quiet on the way, just some scuffling and disgruntled noises on some curves in the road.

Evening was coming on fast when we got home, and we were bringing hardware cloth for the coop home at the same time as the occupants, that we had to install before we could put the birds in for the night.  We quickly tacked the mesh on the bottom, creating the secure “upstairs” interior, and used plumbing strap to put on the poles for carrying it.  Then we tipped the coop back upright and moved it to the garden area where we want them scratching.

Yep, heavy.  H.W. :“Yeah, I feel like an Egyptian slave, carrying the king on a litter.”  IMGP6727

All ready to release the birds into their new home!

IMGP6729Excited, we carried the box of birds up from the car and put it on the floor inside the coop.  IMGP6730

Reached in to open the flaps, waiting for the heads to pop up, and… nothing.  All the birds were burrowed down on the floor of the box, in a very awkward-looking pile, heads down.

Peeked in on them later, and they hadn’t moved.  Spending the night in the box, then.

Chicken condos!

 

The girls are almost due to start popping out eggs, so it was time to give them boxes.  I was quite happy to repurpose a decrepit pile of assorted drawers, feed boxes, and hutches, formerly used for a rabbit raising op.  Chickens aren’t fussy, and what the assortment of boxes lack in beauty they make up for in saving time.

We just tacked them back together where they were falling apart and tacked them to the walls however they would fit, and presto, chicken condos!

Also a deluxe new pole near the ceiling for them to roost on, since they crowd together every night, teetering on the highest point of the branch.  I think height on the branch equals status.

Time to start laying, ladies!