Friday, May 14, 2010

Chicken House - Inhabited

Our custom chicken house is finished (with the exception of exterior paint to match the house and other out buildings) and the fledged chicks (close to two months old now) reside in and enjoy their new space. The overall structure is 8' X 10'. The chickens have a space that is roughly 8 X 7 and roughly 8 X 3 right inside the exterior door is reserved for feed, egg sorting, etc.
The pullets and what I believe to be two out of 20 that are roosters enjoy the interior with hanging water and feed vessels, a roost and pelletized bedding on the floor which is 3/4 inch rubber mats over the OSB floor which was also painted/sealed with Kilz2 paint. Since the entire structure is primarily 2X4S and OSB, we sealed the majority of the chicken interior prior to moving them in.

This is a view of the structure from the NE corner that shows the door and 2X2 window on the east and the a 2X6 window on the north that provides light and ventilation to the chicken area. The smaller window and door are for the feed area. The siding is preprimed and all the bare wood has also been well primed with Kilz2 and well caulked by Master Caulker, Al.
This is the SW corner. The run will be on the south and obviously you can see the chicken-sized door that will allow us to give access to the yard or deny access to the coop (for cleaning, etc.) as we see fit. The west and south have no windows. Might have been nice for light but more interested in summer heat reduction.

This is just a straight on shot of the south side. Next blog about this will be later this month when we can afford to buy the dog kennel panels that will make the chicken run.

This is the direct shot from the east which is what we see from our kitchen window. The yard which will be to the left of what you see will also be visible so we will get to enjoy the colorful flock from the house and yard. Yet they are far enough away, we should not be smelling them. :-) Knowing how horrible that this blogspot is to manage pictures, hopefully you can look at the pictures and from wherever they land, you can get a feel for how it sits on the property.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tribute to Rasberry : January 26, 2000 - April 21, 2010

LaVerne's Rasberry Baret gave up life overnight after 10 great years of service and companionship. This picture is her a couple months ago before she had her last set of twins. Ten years, twenty kids, and ten productive years of milk production are just some of the distinctions this grand old lady takes across the rainbow bridge with her.
She has always been a very special doe to me for many reasons. She was bred by my dear friend in Delta Colorado, LaVerne Charles, and was not bottle raised like the goats we have and therefore not very people friendly. She was definitely a one-man goat. My goat. Even Al would have troubles at time getting her in for milking if she was inclined toward tempermental. And if you asked friends and neighbors who have helped with chores when we were out of town, she was always a handful. But never for me.

She is a cross-bred dairy goat. She is half LaMancha and half Oberhasli. She gets her beautiful bay color with the black trim from the Oberhasli color pallete and both the LaMancha and Oberhasli breeds are enjoyed for their mild mannered personalities.

At age 4, she had many triumphs. She was Grand Champion Recorded Grade dairy goat at an ADGA sanctioned show. The pictures of her being posed are from that show. She did not show again after that year. Later that summer, she contracted a very tough case of mastitis which nearly took her from us then. But with her strong will and the right medications and love, she survived. The triumph of survival was not without its price it resulted in the lost of one half of her udder. But she continued to produce kids and milk right up to the end with her half udder. At the end she was still producing nearly a gallon of milk a day with her one function side.

Today we will give her body back to the earth with her memory firmly planned with us for a lifetime. She leaves behind last year's and this year's doe kids with us and her 3 year old daughter is soon to freshen at a nearby dairy.

May Rasberry rest in peace.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Picking Up Chicks on a Friday Night!

What a strange title for a post on the Matrix Compound. But the woman at the Elbert convenience store gave it to us. Funny how things stick.
We have taken the plunge at the Matrix Compound to get our own chickens again. In Gallup we had chickens, guinneas, ducks, geese and muskovee ducks. But since we have been back in CO we have not ventured into the feathered world.
I more or less took it upon my self to research some cool custom coops that are offered on Craigs List and moved forward with the move to our own eggs once again.
Since our friend, Barry, moved to New Mexico, we have not had the benefit of home grown eggs. So we hope by late summer our newly chosen flock is providing that.
We have 20 chicks (hopefully all pullets) of three varieties. We have 12 Aracaunas, 2 Gold Star and 6 Patridge Rocks. They are resting comfortably in a water tank with heat, feed and water tonight in our outdoor kitchen. We hope to get the coop in the next week or so and move them into it right away.
We have other pictures but this one seems to capture their current environment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet the Goats - Daisy

Daisy (Matrix YB Daisy if anyone is a goat breeder and wants to see her pedigree on is a 3 year old purebred LaMancha doe. She is perfect in every attribute of breed character, milk production and temperment. She will not kid this year until around the first of May and we are in the process of drying her off from her last freshening last April. Almost 12 months fresh and still milking strong!
Daisy goes back to many of the goats I started out with in my previous herd under the Drucken-Hanks name with excellent stock from South Fork, Jerita, Altrece, Velvet Acres and others. I have believed in these lines for the past 12 years and they continue to contribute to the strong breeding program of the Matrix herd.
We will try to introduce you to each of our small herd over the next few weeks. If this sounds like a repeat, well it is. I had intentions of doing this last fall but returning to full time work with a busy travel schedule just did not allow. But Al and I both are committed to showing off our critters!
Next on the list--Daisy's 2 year old daughter, Dogoszhi.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Thanks

Hello All,

Just a couple of lines as we celebrate our Thanksgiving Day at home here at the Matrix Compound. Due to my work schedule and Al wrapping up his first semester of grad school next week, we chose to graciously decline invites from friends to share a Thankgiving Day feast in order to stay close to our work and give thanks for all that we have. We are thankful for our health, our families and our livlihood.

Although there is the focus on work, I am also focusing on a feast for two that will resemble a feast for 12. We love turkey, fresh and leftover. I figured it takes about as much energy to roast a smaller bird that an large one so I have a 15 pounder in the electric roaster that should be ready to eat around 1. Not a lot of fancy sides so just the basics: dressing, smashed potatoes, gravy and the fresh asparagus to green things up. My dressing is always full of veggies too. :-) Of course the homebaked goodness of a Marie Calendar's pumpkin pie and homethawed goodness of a Marie Calendar's coconut cream pie. Gotta love BOGO's at King Soopers!

Of course the leftovers will go into multiple packages with turkey and gravy frozen for soup starter for the winter, dressing just to slice and eat fried, on bread (yea right, like you have never heard of putting a healthy slab of cornbead dressing between two slices of bread with a dollop of mayo.... ), or nice dry pieces of leftover breast meat on a sandwich with butter.

For some reason, it is really hard for Al and me to get a good picture together. Perhaps it is the scurrying around with tripod/camera timer. Who knows. But just a quick hello photo shot from us on this very beautiful sunny Thanksgiving Day in Ellicott, CO

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn Moon

Photos just cannot do justice to the huge pure white spot light that is illuminating the compound this evening. It rose over the horizon and brilliant yellow-orange and now, 7:30 pm MST, it is pure bright white. The first picture is without flash allow the camera shutter speed to adjust to the light received (on the tripod of course). The second one is capturing it with flash on.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween II

So today, we slept in, Al did homework and we did other little things around the home. About 2 pm I was bored because we were all dressed up to go to our evening engagement. Out of the blue, I looked on line at movies and saw that we had just enough time to shut down the house and make a 2:50 showing of Michael Jackson's This Is It documentary/musical movie. DEFINITELY worth watching. There is nothing in this film that is not about what his final tour would have been like. It was heart, energy, respect, support, God and more. Check it out!

From the movie we went into the Black Forest to have dinner and spend time with our friends Mark and Christine. Since we hurriedly headed off to the movie, we forgot to pack a camera so we have no photos of their home, their minimal costumes or ours. But it was a good time. Christine prepared meatball subs, bloody mary cocktails and onion rings. We added guacamole and chips and a few Coors Light and Diet Pepsis. A good time was had by all!

Happy Halloween!!!

No pictures in this blog, but just want to report in since it has been 10 days since the last blog. We have had quite a week. The front that moved through left a lot of snow north of us but we mostly got the benefit of the wind (for electric generation) and pretty cold temperatures. We have the water tank heaters that we plug in when we know the temperature is going to go below freezing. Since all the does have been bred, it is important for them to have plenty of water to help with the gestation process.

Today we were in the high 60s and there is no trace of a snow storm left at our house. But we have had two storm systems in October that threatened clobbering conditions that did not materialize at the Matrix Compound. Granted, the goats were not loving life eating outside but they did as we have a herd of survivors. Since their natural body temperature is a couple degrees higher than humans, they have the mechanisms to deal with the cold.

This does make us wonder what we are in store for the rest of the dark seasons. I HATE that tomorrow we will wake up in a different time zone and we will have no evening light at all. It just annoys the shit out of me. But I will live.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Colorado Weather - Gotta Love It!

Weather in Colorado, like in many places, changes on a dime. One day I am hot, working in the garden tilling and wearing shorts. Then 3 short days later, I would not dare venture outside in the snowy windy 'right at freezing' temps day without my flannel lined jeans!!!

It is hard to tell from looking at these pictures, but they are in living color. Unfotunately today, it is primarily shades of grey.

Ice accumulated on some parts of the weather station which is 11 feet in the air. The wind generator is earning its keep with seemingly little regard for the temperatures. If the wind chill is 24 on the ground, I wonder what it is 45 feet up!?!?!?!?!?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Under Employment Picture Changed

To those of you I know personally, you know that I was laid off from my consulting job at CIBER due to lack of work. It had been a very long 7 months but I have now been reactivated and receiving assignments and working again. Although due to my part time professor jobs I have not drawn any unemployment, it has been a dicy time for us here at the Matrix Compound. Although my work is not quite at 100% capacity yet, all are hopefull that it will be steadily increasing.

I just returned today from a week away from the Compound working in Little Rock. It rained the entire time. I am very glad to be home but also glad to be back consulting at any available level. Perhaps the economy is slowly recovering and our President's stimulus package is making inroads.

Wind Generator: Fully Operational

As of Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009, our wind generator is fully operational. The digital net meter was installed replacing the old dated analog meter. Even as I type, looking at the SkyView display wit less than 10 mph winds, we are generating electricity. Time will only tell now how much we will be generating. But I believe that whatever we generate is going in the right direction to improve our environment.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wind Generator - Partially Operational

We are happy to report that our generator is free to turn in the wind and produce electricity. It has passed the many inspections required by the County of El Paso and by MVEA. One final step remains to make it fully functional will occur one day this next week when the operations crew of MVEA will visit to replace the analog meter with the digital net meter which will allow us to receive credit for excess electricity we generate and go onto the MVEA grid. Will post again when that happens. But for now, I have revived an older laptop and installed the SkyView software that I can leave running 24/7 and log the activity. One day when I have too much time on my hands, I will figure out how to create a spreadsheet or database to analyze the results.

Happy Green!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen Exterior Improvements

The external improvements are nearly complete on the Milking Parlor. It would still be nice to get the three sides of the original structure (less the slant roofed area) with another coat of the sage paint. Lots of other projects like building a garden for next year may take priority. Depends on how many more nice days we have this fall.
Additionally, I have paint to add a touch of color to the white doors. The single door in the first picture (and the main house front door which are both white) are going be a rich bittersweet color. The double doors in the second pictures will be painted the siding color.
Also you can see in the second picture that we had a project within a project with adding 40 12 X 12 pavers at the double doors which will certainly make the winter experience better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wind Generator - Skyview Software

On Tuesday, September 29th, Kevin from Cheyenne Wind was out and did the test run prior to final inspections of our generator. How wonderful to finally see it spinning. We were issued our serial number, computer USB antenna, and SkyView 2.o software CD. This software allows us to know exactly what our generator is doing at any point in time. It is now installed on the computer and we have done our own “test run” of the generator. I am sure that we will be enthralled with the software for some time to come.
So there are three inspections that must occur. The building permit final inspection should be today. Next, the electrical permit inspection will be performed. Finally, Mountain View Electric Association will do a final inspection and switch out our analog meter with the digital net meter. At that time, the Matrix generator will be fully functional.
New facts regarding it operation were learned yesterday as well.
At 56 mph wind speed, the generator will lock itself and turn off. It will wait one hour before trying to restart and test the wind speeds to determine if it can safely operate. This is done to avoid damage to the generator.
The generator does NOT provide power in the absence of grid power. If we have a power flicker, the generator will shut down and will try to resume every 10 minutes. In the event of an extended power outage, this will continue until power resumes. If we had a backup generator wired into our home, we could shut the connection to the MVEA grid, the wind generator would sense the backup generator’s function and begin producing power to assist production in that closed environment. We may have to look in to that.
Stay tuned!

==End of Chapter==

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wind Generator - Erection Day - Blog Three

Stay in order with these, OK? Even if they do not show up right... OK Time for this appliance to go into the air. Here are a couple of shots. More photo viewing (and hopefully video veiwing) will be available soon!

It is standing and it is an eye full. Seeing it pivot on the tower with the wind is amazing. I was there (have pics to prove it) and the bubble of the computerized level was right on the money! It moves with ease! A braking mechanism is on at this point until the electrician gets back later this week to work his magic.
Stay tuned!

Wind Generator - Erection Day - Blog Two

If you didn't see Blog One of this thread, do so. After the monopole was compiled and attached to apparatus of the foundation, the next phase was to raise the pole high enough off the ground to attach the generator itself.
It was such an awesome site to see it fully assembled and all of the wiring is complete to the top including the computer WiFi communications antennea on the top.

Wind Generator - Erection Day - Blog One

September 22, 2009. A day to remember at the Matrix Compound. There will probably be at least 2, maybe 3, sections to this day. Because of the oddities of the compose window of, I feel the need to chop it up in order to provide a balance of text and pictures. Well, around 8 am this morning the equipment showed up to erect the monopole with the generator/fins already attached.

Unloading and aligning three sections of the monopole was the first major step. These sections are precision made to the point that each pole set has a serial number.The first picture is moving the pole sections into place with the second picture of the 12 ton wench from a stationary truck pressure squeezing the two compression joints of the three sections together.

The ground flange end of the monopole is attached to a rig/gig/device that will automatically align the holes in the flange with the bolts in the foundation/pier.
Check out Blog Two of this day as I am tired of trying to deal with pics and text in this one :-) It will continue!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen Exterior Improvements - Time for Paint!

Our exterior makeover of the Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen is moving along nicely. Barry helped me this morning and we finished up all the prep of caulking, base trim boards and other "get ready to paint" items. When Al returned from work after 3 pm, I was starting the process of putting on the trim color (a nice sand hue that matches the trim color of the house). Al quickly jumped in and everything that is to be that color is now painted one coat. It looks like in most instances one coat will be fine since we spent so many hours on the prep and had no bare surfaces at all.

There is a front forcasted to come through tomorrow afternoon. We would like to get the siding color on the building by noon so that when any storm would hit late in the afternoon/evening, would be good and dry. The siding color is a sage green, again that matches the house. Because of the style of the siding, it has to be brushed or sprayed. And if you keep in mind that we are erecting a wind generator, you know that we will be brushing the siding paint. :-)

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Planning a Road Trip

As early as I can get around on Thursday of this coming week I will be making a major road trip to Central Missouri. One of my many 'favorite' neices, Crystal, is getting married. I hope to be able to blog about the wedding. Depends mostly on my ability to take photos since Al will not be traveling with me. I will be leaving Thursday for this 13 hour drive, if I do not stop too long along the way, and then doing it again on Sunday. But I am so happy to be able to make the trip and see Crystal get married. She is such a wonderful woman.

I have two neices who's weddings I have misssed and I regret that. Janis married in 2002 (she is my first neice and my God daughter) and I ended up with shingles and could not travel to NE for her wedding. Then when her sister, Jamie, married, I was somehow too tied up with work.

My family is very important to me. I miss my brothers and sisters every day and my relationship with all of their children is very real and very important. As I continue to age (and get closer and closer to my young Mother's age) I hope to be a positive addition to all of their live experiences.

This has gone on too long and I am sitting in my chair aching from the heavy sand shoveling I have done this evening. Please forgive any typos but please tell me if you see them so I can correct them.

Love to all,

Uncle Bill


I feel the urge to post about current projects. I guess for multiple reasons. #1, I am a professional Project Manager. #2, On top of that I have been under-employed for the past 6 months. #3, we have a ton of stuff going on. We have the "big" project of the Wind Generator. We have a major "save the construction" project going on for our Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen. We have my son's CSU-P activities as a Sophomore this year. We have my job search / teaching where I can. We have Al starting his Masters program this semester. Then today I take on a mini project of laying pavers at the "goat entrance" to the Milking Parlor. WOW. What the hell would I do if I had a day job? Crap, I think that ... OH WAIT ... When I get my "day job" again, I will have money to hire this crap done!!! Praise Gods!

OK So.... As currently scheduled, the Cheyenne Wind guys will be erecting our generator on Monday! I am so freaking excited! I can barely stand it. I have been waiting for that moment since early July! Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen Exterior Improvements

The Project:

On Sunday, the 13th, we started with the first round of prep. Scrape, scrape, tear off, scrape, chip away, scrape, …. You get the picture. Our dear friend, Barry, has been so kind to lend his labor and expertise to the project. Today, Thursday, the 17th, Barry, Al & I resumed the prep. Replacement sill trim has been installed to retard the deterioration of the bottom of the siding. Spackle, wood putty and a staggering number of tubes of caulk have been and will continue to be applied to the exterior.

Included here are photos of the work in progress. You can bet there will be a blog when it is completely finished so we do not leave all these bruises, bumps and pimples burned in your mind’s eye. It is really an awesome space.

Milking Parlor/Crafting Kitchen

As you may know from reading this blog, two of three or more "at home" elements of life on Matrix Compound are our goats and my soap and other handcrafted products. We are EXTREMELY fortunate that the majority of work around these two hobbies (combined into one cottage business) are conducted outside of our primary dwelling. We have a detached facility that with the exception of a toilet, have all the amenities of a fully equipped kitchen, a milking parlor and a kidding area attachment.

We moved to this property from Gallup, NM, in late August, 2005. One vision I immediately realized that was a huge plus for this property over others we were looking at (the biggest draw was the fact that it was a "stick-built" home and not a modular/manufactured home like the largest percentage of homes out here on the high plains) was the fact that there was a "3rd" garage. Two-car attached to the home and then another single bay structure about 10 yards from the back door.

The Vision: It had 30 amp electric service to it. It had a foundation and slab capable of support a horseless carriage. It was sound in structure. I would make two wonderful rooms with its roughly 15' X 30" dimension. There was a solid slab of concrete on the back side of it that had been the resting place for a dog kennel 12' X 15".

We bought and sold the house in Gallup in a very good market so we had some cash burning our pockets. (No our savings account...) I was referred a contractor that will remain unnamed because his performance in the end was not worth what we saved... but I will NEVER blog about Jerry... I don't gossip...

The project had some major elements such as getting water out of the basement of the home to the structure, and the major construction of the interior and the installation of many doors, building the sloped roof addition (the kidding area) on the former kennel foundation, and related plumbing.

Sorry if this getting too long and boring....

Once the construction was completed (over budget AND over schedule, it was "usable" prior to our first goats kidding in February 2006.

In the summer of 2006, we decided to change our house colors so we wanted to try the colors out on the Parlor. So we slapped a couple of coats of paint on the weathered siding we inherited. We are not painters and although I have two brothers who are professional painters and drywall, I guess I never got the “prep” message.

Stay tuned for the next blog about the project on-going at this time....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cloud Formation looking like Sponge Bob Squarepants!

Last evening about 6 pm as we are starting evening chores, Al notices this interesting cloud, we quickly grabbed the cam and shot some quick shots. It was even more square when we first saw it but it was moving quickly to the South and skewing as it traveled. But still quite cool. Here are a couple of shots of it and pretty good picture of Al with the cloud he noted! Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brag Moment - Proud Papa Reporting

It has been a few days since I have blogged since no bloggable events have occurred in a few days, school is back in session and I do not yet have pictures to take the next step in the introduction of the goat herd that I introduced some time back.. So now I have to do a brag moment blog! Some of you who follow my blog know that I have children and the youngest is Bill (Ross). He is now a Sophomore at Colorado State University - Pueblo double-majoring in Music Education and English. In his Freshman year he qualified for induction into Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. To qualify you must attain a 3.5/4.0 grade point average for your first semester of college.

So this was all new to me. I achieved all of my college education as an adult student with little concern for traditional student life. I have since learned that I also achieved this status as a Freshman but with the focus on a full time job and new life with wife and 2 daughers, I must have not bothered.

I researched it a bit. Here is wikipedia's blurb on the ALD Honor Society.

The statistics quoted at today's ceremony filled my chest with pride. Of all first year students at CSU-P in the Fall 2008 class of approximately 1000 students, less that 50 achieved the status to join and be inducted into ALD. That makes me quite proud.

As the speaker continued to explain, the first term for most students is the most tramatic with the social pressure, demanding classes with lack of structure (as known in high school), and many missing home or their first time away from home for a significant amount of time.

The picture here is that of Bill (Ross) and his mom, Sue, at the conclusion of the ceremony. Thanks for enduring my brag moment!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Barry's Labor Day and Housewarming Party

A good time was had by all! Tons of good food, company and yard games all surrounded by the great vast outdoors of the high plains in El Paso County. Stay tuned and view for more extensive write by Barry! FYI, Click on collage to enlarge.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Colorado State Fair--2009

Hi All,

This will not be a long blog but we had a really nice day today at the Colorado State Fair. A friend and Al & I arrived around 10:30 this morning and left around 6 in time to do chores. Around 4 my son, Bill, was through with classes and classwork for the week and met us for the last two hours of the day. We took in the fair food, fun and critters. The goats were just starting to arrive and there were no cattle to speak of. But there was plenty to see!

The draft horse show classes were most facinating. Not being a horse person, I never really thought about the skill required to get a team to manuver as instructed. The handlers were quite skilled! Bingo!

Here are a couple of pictures to help share the experience!
PS Here are some descripers for the pics!
Al, draft horses, brown swiss dairy cow, Bill with cow, solid red boer goat doeling, cashmere goat doe

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wind Generator - Awaiting the Cure

On Monday, August 31st, the bolt template and forms were removed from our foundation. This what it looks like now and approximately two weeks from this past Thursday the concrete should be cured adequately to stand up the generator. We cannot wait!

==End of Chapter==

Monday, August 31, 2009

CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves - First game 2009-10

Less than 3 minutes into the third quarter with the Thunderwolves stomping the Eastern New Mexico State Greyhounds, a major lightening storm began and fans were told to evacuate the aluminum seating stands. I have to tell you about the evening after the lightening.

So this picture is the clock when all the human lightening rods had to leave the aluminum beachers. Barely into the 3rd quarter.

I sent Al and Sue to the car and I headed down to the band to see what I could do to help them get under cover. After a brief discussion that I could do nothing to help them, the rain and started big time. I started walking briskly to where I believed the car to be. But in the driving rain, frantic people, etc. there was no way I knew where the car was on the campus as I trecked to the west across the campus. I saw the banner of the School of Business and thought I might be able to get a bit of cover on the front steps to dare to pull out my Blackberry Bold into the we from the holster to call Al.

Al and Sue headed toward me and we met up and I got into the front passenger seat of the SUV. I was SOAKED! YIKES! We got back to their house and I changed into dry clothes and sat, had a couple of beers and tried to stop shivering. Finally I did.

Sue thought we should stay another night but we were determined to get home because we had taken advantage of our good friend doing the chores too long. We arrived home around midnight.

I woke up Sunday SO fluish. And I am still not over it on Monday night. OMG, have I connected with H1N1 through this weekend of activity? I think that if I am not feeling significantly better tomorrow afternoon I wil be getting tested.

Hope all are well.