Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday fragments... or festival seating in the chook yard

in which our plucky heroine adds to the hen habitat...

6:15 AM and time to let the hens out... and they immediately start heading out to look for food and forage for bugs.  Boneclaw Mother is keeping a wary eye on me. Early morning is the only real time to get anything done outdoors, and so a number of trips between the water barrel and the backyard make sure that the strawberry bed and the baby feral grape are watered, as well as feeding and watering the hens.

Yesterday was 97F in the shade here, 83F in the house. Today is forecast the same. My cope function is broken, am attempting repair with repeated topical external application of cold water. By running the (five!!) fans before bedtime and in the early morning, am able to cool the house down about ten degrees, which helps somewhat. Am cogitating on what other strategies can also help, besides the mylar bubblepack and fan deployment. Wondering about making some type of seasonal "shade screens" for the east and west facing windows; our south facing windows already have permanent metal awnings that some former owner installed (they many in fact be original to the house)

My idea of having the fig trees in pots shade the west window has not proved functional, as they do not provide either dense enough or tall enough coverage to make a difference and actually would prefer to be located somewhere with morning sun instead of shade until the afternoon...

Managed to limp outside yesterday, before the temperature hit hellacious, and tied up a small 4x6 silver tarp I found in storage to help add some more shade to the hen habitat... For most of the day the area just along the fenceline is shady, and there is shade under the arborvitae and under the chicken house as well, but in the heat, any additional shade is good.
... and another view of the shade tarp, with the "rosebush bower" in the background. Underneath the feral roses is another favored hen hangout spot, since they are in the shade most of the day, shade is not great for roses, but the hens are happy. Last year I let the roses sprawl, and they took up most of the space between the fence and where the hen house is now, with many lovely flowers and masses of thorny canes; this year that space is dedicated for chickens instead.

July SMART goals
1 blue tunic for B chook shade tarp recycle bin full
2 grey gown for M - -
3 linen gown for S - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
When I looked at the year chart, am currently running ahead of schedule in all categories save "things gone" and that one is on track (though not ahead), which really surprised me. A bit more attention in July on the KonMari process and decluttering will get things balanced, though of course there will be continued artisanry and repair happening as well.


  1. What good care you take of your household!

    I wish I had some magic tricks for cooling off. Running cold water over the inside wrists is helpful for a few refreshing minutes. Loose cotton gauze clothing seems coolest to me. I love knit tops but gauze beats them for cooling.

    1. Thank you for the good words... I've been taking one minute or less cold showers, where I run the cold water from toes to the top of my head and everything in between. Sometimes it feels like I might crack to pieces, just like an ice cube when put into water cracks from the thermal shock.

      My popover dresses are the best option I have found for this sort of weather, and I am combing my stash to find suitable fabric. I'd love to try making one out of the Japanese "double gauze" which is supposedly really lightweight and airy but not clingy or see through. I do have two new popovers cut out from lightweight rayon, and will be sewing those up this weekend. The good thing is that they are as easy as pie to sew

  2. Great going on your schedule, especially the KonMari and good luck with your cooling strategies, I cannot imagine how I would cope with it tbh.

    1. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest decades ago, it was in part because I love the cool grey misty weather and loathe hot and sunny... back then we would very occasionally get a week or two of hot summertime, but mostly it was more temperate than anywhere else I have lived. I am grateful that at least many of the transit busses and the public library and larger shops are air-conditioned, though most folks homes are not, and, of course, as someone without a car there is a lot of walking I must needs do for shopping and getting around.

      Since the middle of June this year we are running between 10 to 20 degrees F hotter than average, and, of course, there is a strong drought as well. My friends who went camping last weekend said that the river where we usually camp is very low, and the little branch of it where our campsite is was missing entirely.

  3. How about an east end pergola for grapevine, and a west end pergola for kiwis or hardy kiwis. Do you like either variety of kiwi? Being vines, they can be planted in ground, not pots, and their waving new branches can be encouraged to reach for the pergola.

    1. I do like regular kiwi, have never tried the small hardy kiwis... I like that they are a strong source of vitamin C that grows in places that citrus do not. The ground at the east side of the house is currently blocked by the "stupid deck" which will eventually be removed and the soil there made accessable. My long range hope for that window is indeed some sort of planting, and an around the window pergola sounds delightful, if expensive.

      In front of the window on the west end of the house, the studio window, is more problematic. Since it was once the garage driveway, it is all solidly concreted so anything planted there needs to be something that is happy to grow in a planter and not in the ground. In addition, that spot which faces almost due west, does not get any sun until midafternoon, when it is in full blazing heat rather suddenly. I suspect that my figs would be happier if they were in a more evenly sunny location, and when they get repotted I will think about moving them to somewhere else in the yard.

      I have also though about growing hops for shade, though I do not like beer made with hops, the vines and their soft scent is very pleasant, and that might be an option for the east side of the house, once the deck is gone. A sturdy trellis for growing Kiwis near but not tight to the house is something I will think about, rather like that building we once went to near Seattle that had trellises to shade the walls

  4. I've been thinking about possible cooling strategies at your home. There are some ideas here:

    I've often thought that a sprinkler on the roof might help a lot, and that idea is mentioned in the article linked above. You'd want to dedicate a hose and sprinkler, or one of those permeable hoses, for this purpose, so it can stay in place for the summer. The water is more of a dribble down the roof and you would want to capture it for use for your household. Barriers to keep sunlight from ever touching your windows, as you mention above, would be good and could be just wooden frameworks with slats nailed across, then leaned against the house shading windows where needed. Even a length of fabric hung outside the window would help. Pockets at the top and bottom to accommodate slats of wood, the slats extending beyond the fabric and resting on nails driven into the house. Thrift stores might have bedspreads that would serve. Good insulation in the attic, and good attic ventilation, are invaluable, as is caulking to seal up the house. In dry climates, evaporative coolers work well but I suspect your location is a humid one.

  5. Another cooling item: Big boxes of soft drink syrup are used for large soft drink vending machines. Inside of those big boxes are big silvery mylar bags. I've scavenged these bags, washed them and cut them apart, and taped the pieces together to make larger pieces which I used for temporary curtains. They are very effective at keeping hot sun rays from entering the house. I scavenged the bags I used from my workplace, which provided free soft drinks for employees. Some restaurants may use similar syrup boxes. Your house may smell like root beer for awhile, but it goes away before too long.