Kentucky Homestead

We'll be farm-sitting for a month in Kentucky.  There are two dozen chickens, about a dozen other poultry, six goats, six sheep, two horses, and 13 dogs including two rottweilers and a pit bull.  Our host agreed to have us early so that we could get acquainted with the farm routine and all of the animals.

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We're parked at the top of the hill with Chad the billy-goat.  You know the smell of goat cheese?  That's all him, baby.  He is pungent.  It turns out, if you separate the male goat from the female goat, her milk doesn't have any goaty flavor.  Chad's pen is right next to the lady goats, and he calls to them all day.

The sky is incredible here, and the weather has been beautiful.

These are Blondie and Madonna, the baby goats.

Ice has been sleeping mostly in the barn at the top of the hill, looking out for us while we sleep.

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Luna made friends with a neighbor dog, a gorgeous little friendly blue heeler.

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Making pasta with eggs, fresh from the hen.

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We took a day trip into Nashville.

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Luna smelling the night air.

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Our solar is enough to keep up with our usage normally, unless we have more than two cloudy days in a row.  I had to resort to plugging the umbilical into the truck for a couple hours twice this trip.  We'll need more panels and a larger battery eventually, but in the meantime, we'll make do with what we have.  I don't feel the need to get a generator just yet.

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+5 amps through the umbilical.

Sunshine, finally.

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One of the frustrating things about where we're staying in Kentucky is that there are no recycling facilities.  We had to drive to a University the next county away to dispose of our recycling.  Everybody around here just throws it in the trash, but we can't bring ourselves to do that.

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Luna helping with dinner.

More dog friends.

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More beautiful skies.

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Chicken tree.

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Neighbors.

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I just can't get over this sky.

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Movie night by the fire.

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More Kentucky sky.

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I made seed bombs with our worm castings, wild sunflower seeds, and queen anne's lace.  We'll toss them in some ditches on our way out of town.

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Saying goodbye to our loyal guard dog.

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Nashville Bound and A Total Eclipse of the Sun

Back on the road, we're headed to Nashville where Leanne will be speaking at a conference.  We have a farm-sit set up in Southern Kentucky where we'll be getting a taste of homestead life, and have a free place to set up the Airstream.

But first, we need to get there.  Here we are, all packed up.

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For anyone wondering, this seems to be the best way to secure the barn door while we're en route.  We have a latch to hold the door open or shut (helpful when you're not perfectly level), and we use two Velcro straps to secure each of the rollers.

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Packing things in the rear of the trailer isn't the best for stability, but the shower is really convenient to keep things from moving around.  With any luck, we'll have better homes for most of this stuff when we're done construction.

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We try very hard not to arrive anywhere after dark, but sometimes it happens.  One of Leanne's brother's friends was nice enough to offer us a place to park for the night.  It was a little nerve wracking getting situated, but here we are.

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It felt like we were driving through a jungle while we made our way to our spot in the dark.  But in the morning...

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Off-grid breakfast.  It's really handy that all of the appliances work perfectly without being plugged in.

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Back on the road, snapping pictures of other Airstreams at rest stops.

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We stopped at Cracker Barrel for the night.  Cracker Barrel usually has RV parking, and they allow you to stay overnight.  Chicken fried steak, a safe place to park, and biscuits and gravy in the morning.  It's a good deal.

And Cracker Barrel was kind enough to put on a show for us this time.  Fireworks at the stadium next door.

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Next up, Tennessee Cumberland Plateau Campground, TCPC.  This is an Airstream only park near Crossville, TN.  There's usually plenty of very reasonably priced guest spots, but we were lucky to snag one this week.  TCPC is in the zone of totality for the solar eclipse, and we're going to see it!

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Luna seems to be enjoying her trip so far.

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TCPC is situated on 376 acres of land with walking trails, a lake, a clubhouse, and lots of mushrooms to forage.

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I may have overdone it on the chanterelles.  I tried to make chanterelle rissoto, and I think I ended up with rissoto chanterelles.

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Also found this beauty.  Chicken mushroom.  Cut in strips and fried, the taste and texture is spot-on chicken.  Really amazing find.

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In fact, there is a whole tree of chicken mushrooms here that could feed a family of four for weeks.  Unfortunately, these are a little too far gone to use.  We'll have to check again next year.

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Also found a red ghost flower, Monitropa uniflora.  A rare variation of a threatened plant—what a cool find!  Ghost plant is supposedly a powerful medicinal herb, but since it's a threatened species, it should not be harvested.

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Point of interest, got to see the Jim Drier Memorial Light Pole.  Nice to see folks around here have a sense of humor.

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The entire camping loop is just beautiful and well-maintained.  Tons of trees, and not too close to neighbors.

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All set for the eclipse!

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A couple days later, we hiked to a nearby waterfall.

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Now off to Kentucky.

Cabinet Door Catches

For a house that moves, it's nice for cabinet doors to have catches to keep them from swinging open.

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While our drawers have magnetic child locks on them to keep everything secure while we're underway, the cabinet doors didn't quite need such a robust system.  We used these chrome ball catches for all of our cabinet doors.

The tricky part is figuring out how to install them so that everything lines up perfectly.  Here's what we did.

Install the ball catch flush with the inner edge of the cabinet.

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Put the screws in the protruding part of the catch, and lock it into place.  It helps to push the screws a little toward the arc of the door, or they'll hit the door a little too far to the side.

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Close the door and give it a little push into the screws.

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Open the door, and note the marks where your screws will go.

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Install the catch in the door, and you're in business.

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These catches require a slight push to latch, and they give a satisfying click when the door is in place.

Shaker Style Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts

Now that I have the drawers installed, I need to manufacture some cabinet doors and drawer fronts.  Like everything else, they need to be lightweight.  I'm using a simple shaker style built from pine 1x2's and 1/4" plywood.  Use the "premium pine" 1x2's for this, not the cheaper stuff.

I want my doors and drawer fronts to overhang by 1/2", so I'm measuring the space I need to cover and adding 1" to each dimension to get my finished size.

Before I begin cutting, I'll remove all the safety mechanisms from my table saw.  Unfortunately, none of them are compatible with the dado blade.  It's always nice to take a moment to appreciate how quickly this could become a "shaker style going to the hospital" post.  Please note that my fingers are closer to the saw blade in some of these pictures than they should be -- that's because the saw is OFF.  Please also note that I'm not wearing gloves.  NEVER wear gloves when working with a power saw.  If it catches the glove, it can suck your hand right in.

I found it easier to cut a dado in full lengths of 1x2 stock, then cut those pieces to the lengths I need.  If I cut to length first, I end up with pieces that are too small to dado without putting my hand dangerously close to the blade.  To get the groove dead center, I make one cut, then flip the board around and cut the other side.  It takes a few tries on a scrap piece of wood to get the saw adjusted to the exact thickness of your plywood, but it's pretty easy-going after that.  I want the groove to be exactly 1/2" deep.

Next, I need to cut all my pieces to length.  The left and right sides of each piece are exactly the same height as the finished piece because they go all the way to the edge.  The top and bottom are two inches less than the width of the finished piece, because they only go as far as the end of the groove in the sides.

The sides are done, so now I need to cut the ends of the top and bottom.  The shoulder of this cut needs to be exactly the same as the depth of the grooves we cut earlier, and the thickness of the wood that's left needs to be exactly the same thickness as your plywood.  It may take a few tries to get the saw set up, but once it's done, you'll breeze through all your cuts pretty quickly.

The plywood panels for each of these doors should be two inches in either direction less than the finished dimension.  In my experience, it helped to cut 1/8" or so smaller that that to make sure everything fit together nicely.  After test-fitting all my doors and drawer fronts to make sure everything fits, it's time to glue.  You don't need very much glue.  If it's messy, you're using too much.

Once your piece is assembled, clamp it together.  You really do need to clamp it, it'll be much stronger that way.  Check your bottle of glue to see how long it needs to be clamped.  If you have a limited number of clamps, this is where a fast-setting wood glue comes in handy.

If you're going to paint your doors/drawer fronts, you need to caulk the seams between the plywood face and the frame.  Use the cheap latex painters caulk for this.  You don't need silicone or anything fancy.  If it's the cheapest caulk in the store, you've probably found the right one -- just make sure it's paintable.  Do not skip this step or there will be an unsightly crack in this area.  You'll also want to sand the edges of your doors/drawer fronts to smooth everything out, especially at the seams in the corners.

Installing these drawer fronts can be a little tricky.  There isn't much overlap between the corner of the drawer and the "meat" of the door.  You want the screw to hit the pine frame, not the plywood panel.  Here's my method for mounting these drawer fronts.  I put a screw in each corner of the drawer from the inside out, just far enough to poke out a bit.  Then, I close the drawer and line up my drawer front.  When I get it where I want it, I press the door into the screws that are poking out of the drawer box.  Now, I can open up the drawer, line up the screws with the marks I made, and permanently attach the drawer front.

There we have it.  Shaker style doors and drawer fronts.