Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Questions, I have questions


But first, an update on the chickens. There's Georgina on the left, Esther on the right, and the two chicks in the middle. They are always together. Even at night, they crowd into one nest. Mind you, the nests are designed for one chicken at a time, or a chicken and her babies. They basically stack in there, babies on the bottom, mamas on top. I guess they're all warm! The two of them are very protective mothers. The cats give them a wide berth, and the dogs do that I'm not looking at you thing, very carefully looking away if the chickens come by.

Ok, on to the questions. Does anybody know the relative R value of baled hay versus loose hay? Really, it's more straw than hay, nothing nutritious in there, just stems. This is different hay, not my hayfield hay. Ok, back to my question. I have an old fashioned cellar door to the outside. You know, the kind that lay flat, covering steps down to an upright door at the bottom, which leads into the cellar. Those steps are only about a foot away from my pipe from the well into the house. I have had problems with that pipe freezing. In other words, no water in the dead of winter. I want to fill the whole step area with this straw/hay, in the hopes of insulating it so my water doesn't freeze. But is it better to leave it in bales, or open the bales and fluff it up? I am thinking of keeping it in bales where I can, and then filling in the rest with flakes or loose straw/hay. Anybody have an opinion?

Next question. Mom has been putting stuff in her mouth. Anything from stones, paper, marker caps, pen caps, just anything. She has done that off and on, but recently it seems that it is a constant thing. I swear I am feeding her, so I don't think it is done out of hunger. Of course I am paranoid after the whole coin ordeal, but I need to find something edible that she can keep in her mouth, without fearing her choking on it. Partially cooked green beans? Carrot? But what is the right size, big enough that she doesn't just swallow it right away, but small enough that she won't choke on it? Any ideas? Gum might be an option, albeit a sticky, messy one.

10 comments:

Turtle said...

question 1, i think your idea of leaving most in bales and filling around it would work, but what about wrapping the pipe in some insulation or even old clothing or something as well.

question 2, do you think it is a sensory thing with mom or i have heard that if the body feels it is lacking a mineral, nutient it will look to other sources, like stones or pennies. how about a good multi vitamin and bubble gum to distract? (or even jelly belly jelly beans instead of gum?)

cute chicks!

cornbread hell said...

those chicks are so cute. and the dog's are funny as all get out.

q.1 - IF i understand you, you have an airspace (the step area) between the door and the pipes. seems to me you want to 1st insulate the door itself to keep outside outside and inside air dead.

2nd, seems to me the bales should work just fine lowering thermal conductivity and will be much easier to deal with.

but i don't know nothin'.

q.2 - train those momma chickens to keep mom on the straight and narrow.

Annie said...

Hmm, I have more explaining to do. The pipe is underground about six feet, which under normal circumstances would be below the frost line. The issue though, is there is only about a foot of earth between the pipe and the outside step area, so the frost comes in from that side. So the pipe has about 6 feet of earth on top of it, but only about one foot on the one side, because the steps come down. It freezes about two feet back (underground) from the house, so I can't get to it to insulate the pipe, although I can insulate what I can reach where it comes out of the earth into the house. That is a good idea. The upright door at the bottom of the steps is well insulated, with foam spray insulation between all the cracks and plastic over the inside of the door. I want to fill the whole step area with insulation (hay/straw), and then also insulate the flat door that would sort of rest on top. I have contemplated filling in the area with dirt, because I don't use the door/steps anyway, but if I have to replace the furnace/water heater/other mechanicals, this is really the best way in. The other steps from inside the house to the basement are steep with a sharp turn at the bottom, so I don't think anything could fit in that way.

Cindy said...

Bales. Loose straw or hay fluffy like that will help, but not like a bale. Your Mom chewing or just putting in her mouth? If it's a chewing thing, she will need something to chew that will not choke her. Something that dissolves. I haven't a clue. If it's sucking, she needs something like a pacifier, but maybe not a pacifier. If it's just putting in her mouth, why not Lifesavers? The hole in the middle might make it less chancey for choking.

LostInCO said...

q1, don't really have a clear picture in my head but I've heard of other farmers/ranchers using bales for insulation (left in bales) and it doing a fine job. Also lose straw/hay will work...again depends on the space.

q2, I like what turtle said.

Love the picture!!! those chicks and their mamas are sweet.

JudyP613 said...

Although the insulation value of straw bale walls is under some dispute, there is good evidence that it attains a value of RSI 5 (or R28) or more vs. a typical wall value of about RSI 2.5 (or R14) for an insulated 2X6 wall. Moisture content and bulk density matter. translated that means do the bales.

Suggestion for Mom, try plastic straws. The big flexible ones like you get at McDonalds. My mother liked to gnaw, I think maybe her teeth hurt her, not that I could really tell. She couldn't swallow a straw, just too awkward, so no choking hazard.

Cinnamin said...

You probably won't like my suggestion for the pipe…I think that I’d dig down a few feet and wrap it before covering it back up with dirt and the hay bales. I like that precut rounded foam wrap that fits right around the pipe and follow this with duct tape. I haven’t had to do this in a few years since it doesn’t get THAT cold here in CA! :)

The chewing. My Mom only did the everything/ anything in her mouth for a short few weeks. Mostly it was paper products, Kleenex chunks, paper towel edges, napkins. She especially liked to chew those wax covered Dixie cups, just a bite of the cup, kind of like she was chewing gum. I would find these paper-gum bits when it was meal time, tucked in her lip or wedged in the side of her mouth. I tried gum this was a mess. I think it was too sticky and she kept taking it out with her fingers. Not good. Jelly bellies worked pretty well, but Mom was not a sweets eater, so we ended up picking out the not so sweet lemon and sour cherry and licorice flavored beans and I would “leave” them for her to find in a small plastic bowl next to her favorite recliner chair. If we offered them to her, she would decline; she needed to be able to “sneak” one at a time. She also liked those “LemonHeads” hard candies, but then, she had liked these prior to Alz.

JudyP613 said...

Rice cakes. yes I know they taste terrible. My Mother was a chewer, it seemed she enjoyed the chewing sensitation. I'd forgotten we did that until just now.

Mare said...

I am dealing with a very young toddler with the need to put things in her mouth, and the idea of her choking on someting makes me insane. I give her small pieces of fruit, cut up small, like grapes halved or cut in quarters, and banana slices, small pieces of bread with butter, and she loves cheerios(the organic kind are crunchier so more chewing is needed) and those baby puffs, made with fruit and sweet potatoes. They are like cereal, and are a good size, but literally sort of melt in your mouth...I guess i would try to leave these tasty treats out and then do as i do and pick up and tuck away anything little and swallowable you can within reason....Hopefully this will pass soon. I know it can drive you crazy...

beegirl said...

I know nothing about hay, but those have got to be the most beautiful chickens I have ever seen. You can tell them I said so.