Saturday evening Annmarie and I had to go down to the far end of the property and get the sheep. They were in an area they were not supposed to be and had to crawl through a hole in the creek crossing. I knew the flood had damaged the creek crossing fence but had not been down to repair it yet. The sheep found the hole like they always do and went through. This area is still fenced but I just did not want them in there yet. I took Mouse as he doesn’t work well for me and we are trying to reinforce the dogs training and obedience. It took a while, it would have been faster had I listened to Annmarie, this does seem to be a trend in my life. She really is the smarter individual. It got done and Mouse listened much better to me then he had at any time this year.

Mr I Need a Belt Bad came out again on Sunday. I had some things to do inside and it rained again last night, so mowing the lawn was not going to happen again. I turned him loose on the grass and weeds in the back garden area. There was a jungle and lawn attempting to grow and he tackled it with a pair of bent needle nose pliers! He got the entire area cleaned out, I have a few stragglers that I will hand spray with Roundup and put them out of their misery. I even went and got the leaf blower out and blew all of the winter leaves out and cleaned up the area. It looks much better and this needed to be done.

I stayed inside and did some inside chores, cleaned up and even hung up another oil lantern. Annnmarie’s grandparents had these drop down cast iron stands for lamps. I took one last night and scrubbed on it nonstop and got it fairly clean. I also cleaned up an oil lamp from them also. The lamp was stunning! It had an amazing color to the glass and we wanted to showcase it. So I hung the lamp shelf in the bathroom on the slanted wall that was never going to have anything in it. The lamp looks great and it will be a nice reminder of them.

After 24 hours without a front porch I was ready to be done, using the back door nonstop is going to be painful. So we finished pulling nails out of the porch and laid down temporary sheets of OSB I had out in the machine shop sitting around. The dogs and everyone else appreciates the return to our routine. Once we start back up with the supplies this is going to be a big incentive to get things completed in a timely fashion. I may even take some time off to just see it through to the end. I think we could be done in a week.

Mr Professional came out to look at replacing the front bearing seal on the tractor. Once we figured out you needed a hydraulic press and had the potential to damage the bearings we just hooked up the trailer and loaded it up. I will drop it off at the dealers tomorrow at lunch and get it fixed. We will need it in a couple of weeks to mow. I need to get the parts for the second sickle bar and get it up and ready also, we may get to make some hay this year. We are working on adding a large marine battery to the side by side. It will go under the drivers seat so we can hook the sprayer up to it and it has a voltage sensing switch that will isolate the main battery if it starts to go low so we will always be able to start the side by side. I am draining the little batteries trying to run the sprayer as much as we do. The sprayer hose all needs to be replaced, I have all the parts but just have not done it yet. I need to weld on the extensions and just get it done. There is always something. I have one good day in me on the weekends and then take it easy on the second day. I am feeling better but I am not out of the woods yet with my post Covid symptoms. It has been five months now since I caught it.

Porch begins

I spent Thursday cleaning and emptying Annmarie’s grandmothers house so we could close on Friday. It took longer than I thought it would but I managed to get it all wiped down and the wood floor oiled. We went in and signed paperwork on Friday afternoon, we no longer own it. The new owners have plans to fix the roof and do some remodel inside the house. This will allow us to focus our time and energy into the farm only. We are going to use the money from the sale to put on a new porch at our house and to help convert the old house into an office space/maker space for Annmarie and the second room will become a reloading area and jewelry construction bench. We are also going to convert the old kitchen into a freezer room. Each freezer will get its own breaker and I want to install drain pans under each freezer with a drain drilled through the floor so it will be easy to defrost and clean.

Saturday the plan was for Mr I Need a Belt Bad to come out and mow the lawn! The sheep knocked it down so he should have been able to plow through it with the mower and we would have been good for a couple more weeks. Unfortunately, it started to rain early Saturday morning and then continued to rain most of the day. This put a damper on the lawn mowing goal, it rained 1/2”! So instead we cleaned out the pickup which needed it badly. I also still had items from Sarah’s that I had just emptied out yesterday and we had to sort through it all and bring it inside or put it in the old house or send it to the dumpster. Once we had that taken care of it was time to make some progress on the porch.

We really needed some accurate measurements so annmarie could CAD up the new porch using TREX products. She is going to make a parts list also so we can just go in and order everything at once. This will be super nice as we are going to need porch railing, step railing and we want to put 12v lights into the risers on the steps leading up to the front door. I will need to bring a 110V outside box out to the front of the house. This will mean crawling under the house and seeing what is what! I know there is a spot I can tap into I am just unsure where it is, I think there are three places, two I know for certain but its been at least ten years since I have crawled under the house. I am sure the spiderwebs are thick as thieves under there. I figured the only real way to get an accurate measurement was to pull all the decking off of the original porch. We needed to look at the supporting structure and see how much was going to need to be replaced. So Mr I Need a Belt Bad, Meathead and myself tore up the structure. Mr I Need a Belt Bad was the cleanup specialist and proceeded to make a large burn pile out in the pasture. We kept up at it and had the entire porch decking and eight feet of the substructure torn off in three hours. I was surprised at how fast it went. The two front boards along the outer edge of the deck will need to be replaced all around the porch. They are rotten from the water. We will replace with pressure treated wood and that will help considerably. It was a good thing we did tear it off as the decking went under the house four inches! Annmarie used to complain that there was a BREEZE blowing under the front wall and making the entire house cold. Once we installed the tile floor and sealed the floor to the wall this went away. Yep, there was no insulation and no covering, the wind was literally just blowing straight into the house. So we will need to insulate and then seal off the bottom part of the wall. As an added bonus we let Mr I Need a Belt Bad be the pyro person and had him light the porch slats on fire. He went out one time to shove the fire back into a tidy circle and realized that the fire is hot, what he didn’t know was if he had been wearing cotton or wool long sleeves it would have protected him much better. He didn’t get burned and the fire took a while to light as it had been raining!

The dogs had gotten under the porch and dug a nice hole. Plus over the last 50-70 years a lot of dirt had built up under the porch. We shoveled the extra dirt out and proceeded to smooth out the area. This will make the additional pillar supports much easier to install. One corner post that holds up our second story breeze porch is about 50% off of the support! So we will need to fix that before the deck gets installed. The pillars are sitting on all kinds of scrap metal pieces, old plow shares, old metal discs and some pieces I think are joint pieces for railroads. I am unsure on what exactly they are.

Mr Professional came out and planted the rest of the Lavender. Annmarie found our old diagram and I was able to update it. We still have eleven spots that need plants but I think we actually may get some lavender from our Grosso plants and maybe even the Folgate. We will see, every one of our Melissa plants died over the winter, we replaced every one and added some more and will see how they do this winter.

Murphy bed install

I spent Thursday getting ready for the Murphy bed install. I spent an hour watching how to videos from the company’s website then I went into the craft room and unpacked all of the parts. They used a lot off expanded foam sheets and had broken them up to create a custom box. This left little pieces of styrofoam on everything. I spent all of the time wiping and vacuuming down the pieces to get all of the styrofoam contained. I had them all laid out and ready to go for Friday. I had also perused the written instructions just in case so it would not take very long to install. I had said two hours.

Friday Mr Professional came out and we spent five hours working on the install. Annmarie always multiplies my time estimates by three when she is calculating how long it will take me to do something. She is usually right, you would think I would have this system figured out as the outcome is fairly predictable, three times my estimate almost always. We took our time and went over every step meticulously. There was no room to just order another piece. I was going to just fish an extension cord behind the bookcases when we installed them so we had power on the wall. Mr Professional wanted to extend the outlet boxes out and put them into the bookcases. This was a much better plan, not an easier plan, just a better long term outcome. We extended the boxes and installed the outlets into the back of the cabinets. I even ordered wooden outlet covers that match the finish on the bed. They should be here next week.

Mr Professional came out on Saturday for a couple of hours and finished shimming the book cases and installing the trim. The trim is not supposed to be necessary but due to our uneven floor and wall they are needed. After it was all said and done you cannot tell that there were any issues. It looks amazing and now our visitors will have a nice double bed to sleep on and we can still use the room 98% of the time for other things. We are getting sheets and new pillows today for the bed and its will be all ready. We can leave the bed made up and merely have to just pull the bed down to get it to work.

Need some more storage or do we?

The plan to convert the old house into an office is taking shape quickly. One of the things I realized is that we have a lot of other stuff in the old house. It has started to collect things. To combat this they need a new home. Now I could get rid of some stuff and we will look at everything hard before moving it out to its new home. There is a lot of space in the old chicken coop, it just needs to be cleaned up. To do that I need some help as a lot of items are long and its a pretty daunting task. I have a new helper today, it’s his first day. I have started having them pack their own lunch, bring water, appropriate boots, gloves and pants. This helps set some expectations and less for me to think about, not everyone appreciates my culinary tastes. The first day is always a dance, will it work out? What name are they going to earn for the blog? Will they keep returning?

I went in and picked him up as his mother was busy working. This did get me in some hot water at home though as I was bribed with a Dutch Bros Coffee and when I got home the wife wanted to know why I did not get her one! I quickly threw my benefactor under the bus and explained that I did not go into town and get a coffee solely for myself. This seemed to mollify the lovely half.

He proceeded to pick up trash in the yard and pick up all of the loose branches and lumber laying about. I ripped the edges off of some tongue and groove boards so we can make the magnetic screens for the bathroom. I will finish cutting those soon and then work on getting them constructed so that Annmarie can get the fabric screens installed. It is the last thing we need to do in the upstairs bathroom except for the toilet paper holder and hand towel holder, both of those were ordered a month ago but have not arrived yet. While we were working and I had to dig around in the old house for a skilsaw, I realized that we needed a storage space for most of the stuff in the old house. I had visions of building a freezer room on the backside of the old house but today realized that all of our freezers can fit in the old kitchen. I just need to level the room by adjusting out the built in slant on the floor and wiring in three separate breakers.

We went out to the old chicken coop and we started to just go through all of the old wood piles. I had sorted them 12 years ago and kept too much scrap wood. I had little pieces of 1×1 feet, not sure what I was going to do with anything this small. The helper stuck with it and kept working. This is the first problem that usually pops up, they don’t work. He kept at it and the room was dirty! Lots of sawdust from the ceiling and walls and cobwebs everywhere. I was told that he may not like spiders but we have them everywhere so a little exposure was needed. We finally had to use a shovel to empty out the dirt, sawdust and mess from the floor as the push broom could not handle the volume. My helper kept surreptitiously pulling his new pants up every few minutes until he uttered the following words “I need a belt bad”, a name was born, Mr I Need a Belt Bad! We found an old stick lighter that still had fuel in it and it worked. We ended up starting a fire and burning all of the small pieces of wood.

After lunch we moved two more piles of wood, by the second pile I was wearing down and Mr I Need a Belt Bad was dragging, he was tired! This doesn’t mean anything as there was still work to be done. We moved two huge old 6×6 barn beams that were rotten. I am unsure why I kept them as they were really rotten. But they ended up on the burn pile and went up in flames nicely. We got pretty much everything cleaned up, the only thing left is the small grain room floor needs to be shoveled and swept. I also need to get some shelves to install and move some infrequently used stuff from the old house out. I think we can be done in another couple of hours.

Mr I Need a Belt Bad was so tired he was only able to carry a single piece of maple back to our house. I carried four pieces. He was super excited to get paid, he earned it and will be back next week on Saturday to tackle the yard. The rain we got today totally hampered any lawn mowing.

Summer is quickly approaching

Summer is definitely coming. We are working on getting our water back up and out to all of the plants. That last minute freeze (17 degrees F) wrecked havoc with our automatic water timers. We had already turned on the garden and lavender sprinkler system and the timers froze, nothing else was damaged. So yesterday we got the berries and lavender watered and lavender weeded. I had some grass trying to grow through the ground cloth and rubber bark, so I pulled it all and got most of the roots. It’s a lot easier to do when the grass clumps are small. We also got the front hillside water turned on and the entire front hillside watered. It does not have a timer and we accidentally left it on last night so it will now be getting a manual timer that will go up to two hours. The water pressure is a lot better since we found and fixed the leak.

Our Murphy bed came via freight truck on Thursday. I tried to talk the guys into delivering it across the bridge and onto the front porch. They were not going to do that as it is only curbside delivery. We were just happy that they did not sit on it for two months while Annmarie badgered them to deliver it, our last local freight experience was less than pleasant. The last one wanted a full load of stuff before they came to Pilot Rock!! We would have to wait a few years for that to occur, which is what Annmarie told them repeatedly. The whole thing is heavy, 800# and we weren’t sure how to get it to the house. I had asked Annmarie to get me a set of “arm forks”, straps that go over your forearms and provide the leverage where you need it to maximize your lifting capability. Most people have the strength just not the grip power, their hands quit which makes it hard to carry stuff. They did not have that so she got me these shoulder straps shaped like an X behind your back and then an adjustable six inch wide strap that goes between them. You put on the harness, squat down, adjust the wide strap then you both just stand up! Your legs actually do all the lifting and then you just stabilize it with your arms. We were able to move the heavy bed portion into the craft room and it weighs around 400 pounds. It was amazing! We moved all four items into the craft room and kinda scoped out the assembly. Without opening the instruction box we have determined that the floor trim needs to be removed and I am going to have to move both outlets on the wall higher. I expect it to take a solid eight hours to get it installed.

I installed a rack in the upstairs bathroom and am now just waiting on the toilet paper roll holder and a hand towel holder. The last item is to make a template for the granite piece that goes on the triangular spot next to the toilet. I am hopeful that I can get that done next week. We moved our daughter back home after selling Annmarie’s grandmothers house. So yesterday was moving day and now we have boxes all over the house, in the attic and with the Murphy bed taking up space we had to move stuff out of that room also! Needless to say it will take us at least a week to dig out and get things arranged.

The chickens were waiting for food when I went out to get eggs last night. The extra rooster has been dispatched and now there should be less fighting at the compost dumping grounds, also known as the treat station to the chickens. Of course we still only have one calf, we hope they will hurry up and just have the rest.