Backyard Baers

Three is Becoming Four

Benjamin BaerThere is much to report at the Backyard Baers camp.

We spent the summer working, working and more working. The contractors we hired finished up the major projects in late summer. That includes the siding, the roof, the kitchen, and the half bath. Pretty big projects that I didn’t have the time or know-how to take on. Meanwhile, I have pressed on with the many projects on my to-do list. At this point, I have removed wallpaper in three rooms and patched/painted each room, patched/painted the living room, replaced all electric sockets and switches, replaced several light fixtures, installed a garage door opener, chopped and split a ton of firewood, and built a bedroom.Yup, I’ve built a bedroom. We needed another bedroom, and the basement is totally unfinished, so I constructed a bedroom near a future bathroom (that's a future project). We put up the studs, insulated, put up the drywall, boxed out the window, and right now I am working on painting it. Once I have it painted, I will add the trim and install the drop ceiling. It has been a lot of work, and a huge learning experience, but I have enjoyed it and we were able to save a lot of money. I have to admit, I think the best part is the sense of accomplishment I get from the feeling that I built a bedroom. It was literally just a large open area, but we have added the walls complete with electrical outlets and even a light with a switch. I am quite proud of the way it has turned out. We’re not done yet, like I said, I still need to add another coat of paint, install the baseboards, and then put in the drop ceiling. The drop ceiling may be a challenge, but at this point I feel confident it is all going to come together and look pretty good.

So, why did we need a fourth bedroom so badly that we dropped what we were doing and started building one? Because in mid-December, three will become four … that’s right, we are due our second child, a boy this time! So, that has really dictated the order of some of our projects. Priority No.1 was getting the baby room ready, and then we had to have a room where our guests could stay. As you can probably imagine, we will have quite a few people coming to visit once he’s born, and I didn’t want to just stick them on the couch in our living room. And long-term, we were going to need a spare bedroom anyways, as we do have a lot of family and friends visit.

PKB had mixed feelings about her coming brother at first, but has gotten more excited as time has progressed. At first, she was just very disappointed she wasn’t going to have a baby sister.

So, to say times have been hectic is an understatement … more so for some than others. Pretty sure my wife was never thrilled about being pregnant and living in a construction zone … one without a kitchen and only one bathroom, which was on the second floor. Apparently, waking up three or four times a night and having to climb a flight of stairs to use the bathroom got old pretty quick.

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We even put PKB to work. Like I always say, "If you live here, you work here!"

Yellow Jackets, Poison Ivy, and a Rooster - Oh My!

Benjamin BaerWell, we are well into July and the summer projects are piling up.

I haven’t done as much work on the chicken coop as I hoped, but I plan to tackle most of those projects later in the year — I need to add two nesting boxes and adjust the roosting bar in the coop. I did build a new water dispenser, which went from two bottles to three and added a shelter. I was out near the coop one sunny day and realized there wasn’t much shade in the run. So, I took the old roof panels from the old coop and built a structure just to provide some shade and cover their food from the rain. This is when I realized our rooster is kinda overly protective of the ladies. I was in the middle of trying to get the panels up in the air, and all of a sudden the rooster comes out of nowhere, tearing up my exposed legs with his talons. I have since learned that anytime I get near the hens, he comes after me. Which is a problem, because literally every time I go in the run the ladies want to be right under my feet. Remember, the ladies were with me a year before he ever came into the picture. I was their first main squeeze and the rooster is clearly not okay with that. So, what am I doing to not get tore up every time I go in the run? Well, for starters, I wear tall boots into the run, which I probably should have been doing all along (flip flops probably aren’t the best choice for the run). But I give him his space while still keeping an eye on him (as he does me), and I keep eye-contact and don’t back down. He will come up to me with his feathers fluffed out, spreading his wings, and I just stand tall and stare him down. I give him the respect I expect him to give me, and so far we have managed to coexist. I have to say, it amazes me the little fear he has toward me. I’m over 6 feet tall and just tower over him, but it doesn’t faze him a bit. He has no problem trying to put me in my place, albeit unsuccessfully, but he doesn’t back down. Which I appreciate; it’s good to know if an intruder comes into the coop or run, the rooster is ready for battle.

When I’m not defending myself against a jealous rooster, you can probably find me painting, cutting down trees, or removing brush. I have probably spent the most time painting, which I absolutely hate. A lot of progress has been made, but it’s difficult to feel any sense of accomplishment when you look around to see how much you still have left. And, unfortunately, that is going to be the feeling for a while, as there is still a ton left. And once I finish painting the walls of the main living areas, I get to paint drylock on our basement walls. 

I can’t begin to count how many trees I’ve cut down, and I like trees. I don’t like to cut them down, but I can’t have trees towering over the house. So, we have removed every tree near the house (which our new roof and siding will appreciate), and I’ve been working on cutting them up to be firewood.

Over the July Fourth weekend, I managed to get caught up in a yellow jacket nest and got stung several times (this is the second time this has happened). I hope there wasn't anyone watching me with a camera, because I never want to see the sight that is my tall, lanky self taking off running with my arms flaring about and expletives flying as I try to escape the angry yellow jackets. I really hope no one ever has to see that spectacle.

I’ve also been removing brush. I’ve been tearing it off fence lines, getting it away from the house, and clearing out areas to eventually have some type of an open backyard for maybe a playset or tire swing. A lot of progress has been made with this; but, unfortunately, it has also exposed me to more poison ivy than is usual.

I’m no stranger to poison ivy. I typically have it every year from about April through September, as I’m extremely allergic. I recall once getting it as a kid on my arm to the point that my arm swelled up to be about double the size as what was normal — it was the first and only time I ever had massive biceps and triceps — and it resulted in excruciating pain. My grandfather was never the type to think someone NEEDED to go to a doctor, but I recall him taking one look at my arm and saying “We might need to get you to a doctor pretty quickly.” I know what you’re thinking: Hey moron, don’t touch the ivy! Well, I have looked at pictures to learn to distinguish the poisonous plant, read articles, applied preventative medicines,and wore enough clothing that you’d think I was preparing for the Iditarod; it doesn’t matter what I do, I cannot avoid the ivy. So, it has just turned into something I learn to live with. 

It hasn’t all been projects and hardships; there has to be a little bit of fun mixed in with the work. So we made a trip to enjoy some sun and water at the fabulous Smith Mountain Lake for a few days. Here is PKB learning the feel of a jet ski.

Photo Jun 24 1 39 48 PM