Look who was crossing the road on our way to the farm on Saturday! This snapper's shell was at least a foot long, and he turned and hissed at me when I jumped out of the truck to take his picture. He was covered in wet mud, but he was pretty far from the creek, so he must have been moving fast.
We had rain Friday night and Saturday morning, so we took advantage of the wet grass, and started burning our collection of lath from the house demolition.
The plaster and insulation, and any painted boards, went in the dumpster, but we have been stock piling the lath strips so we could have a bonfire. I imagined we would have a giant bonfire party when we moved in, but at this rate the lath pile would have composted into dirt before we got the chance to burn it, and since it's not the most attractive pile to have in the yard, so we went ahead and began burning it.
Our chosen chore of the day was to level the downstairs bedroom ceiling. I don't mean level it, as in to tear it to the ground, but make the long boards that hold up the upstairs floor level enough on the bottom to hang a flat ceiling. I borrowed the self leveling laser from work, and we used it to project a laser beam on the wall that was level. It's probably the first level thing to be in this house since it was built! We found the lowest point in the ceiling, and measured the distance from that point to the beam, then made marks on the wall above the laser beam at that measurement in various locations. It took several viewings of YouTube tutorials, and some head scratching to figure out what we were supposed to be doing, but we didn't give up.
At the marks on the wall, we put screws and tied string across the room. The strings were, hopefully, where we should nail boards onto the existing boards, to lower them and make everything nice and flat. We clamped on the first first board after lining it up with the strings and put a bubble level on it. It worked perfectly! No two amateur carpenters were ever more proud of an accomplishment! We have never made anything level the first time we tried. Actually, we rarely get anything perfectly level ever, so it was a big moment.
Brandon screwed the board in place, while I went out to stoke the burn pile, and we repeated the process until we finished nearly the entire ceiling.
On one of my trips outside, I noticed that a horse drawn covered wagon, and several people on horseback were stopped at the end of the driveway.
While all the work was going on, I had some of Joe's homegrown chickens in the smoker. In the photo above, taken by headlamp, the one on the top is from his first batch of heritage roosters, most likely a barred rock. The chicken on the bottom is from this most recent batch of cornish rock cross meat birds. They really don't even look like the same species. The meat bird has short fat legs, and incredibly beefy breast and stomach, and tiny short wings. The heritage bird has massive legs and wings, and a longer thinner breast and body. The skin on the heritage chicken was thicker and fattier, and has bigger chicken bumps (can they be called goose bumps when they are on a chicken?).
Friends, including Joe, joined us for dinner around the bonfire, and we did a taste test of the breast meat once we pulled them from the smoker. The chickens were perfectly cooked. They had been in the smoker for a little over five hours, and the temperature at the top of the smoker stayed between 250 and 300 degrees for most of the time. I used cherry wood chips and oiled and seasoned the skin before they went in, and they were a lovely color, and so moist they were like those old butterball commercials where they poked the bird with a fork and juice would run out. There were actual groans when we finally got to taste them, and I could barely get folks to give me an opinion before they started scarfing. I believe that overall, we all preferred the meat bird (shown at the top of the picture above) because it was slightly more tender and juicy, and the skin was thinner and not as tough. Since the meat birds were only eight weeks old, it makes sense that they would be more tender. I guess they are like the veal of the chicken world. The heritage chicken had a more chickeny flavor, and the dark meat is especially chickeny. I made soup with the left overs tonight, and it's perfect for that since it has more taste.
Because the fire had burned all day, there were beautiful coals. And because we can't see any light nearby, the moon and the stars were fantastic. The red coals made a nice contrast, especially when Brandon started raking them to get the fire to burn out faster.
Cell phone pictures just don't do them justice.