I went out last night to feed the animals and stumbled across the barn floor over near the sheep entrance. I figured it was just me catching my toe in the straw but for some reason I dug down into the straw with my toe and discovered a large inverted V in the floor. Two of the tongue and groove boards pushed up about seven inches. The odd part is it only near the center of the barn. On the outer wall the boards are all flat against the floor. There might have been some shifting of the supports under the barn with the leveling, new floor and new roof all over that section. In the spring after everything dries out I will have to crawl back under the barn and see what is up. I am not going to worry about it right now. It is toss up on whether to work on the stairs in the barn or the attic floor in the house. I am thinking I am going to spend a couple of months on the attic floor then move out to the barn. The first thing to finish is painting the breezeporch. One half is totally done and now we need to move all the furniture and dog kennels so we can clean, prime and paint (2 coats) the other side. Plus, I still need to clean up the old house and put away my tools. Right now I cannot find anything I need or want.
|Upper road and downhill side of back fence.|
|Upper road, leveling in progress.|
|Back upper rock wall connected.|
My trusty tractor and I (and the dog) went out today to work on the back rock wall. I could not work on the outside of the barn as the wind is still blowing. I connected the upper wall sections and started leveling the road on the outside of the fence with the tractor. All the extra dirt and rocks from the road leveling I am using to build up the wall and the dirt to raise the berm. Truly it looks like I spent 30 minutes playing outside. This project is going to take a few years. I am in it for the long haul. I cannot say enough good things about the tractor. It is a huge force multiplier. I figure I can do the work of about 2.5 people when I use my tractor. I am not even sure that many people could have torn up and leveled the road as fast as the tractor.
I think it will take me another eight hours to get the upper road dug out and smoothed out. It was pretty treachorous driving the pickup on a sidehill next to the fence. I have decided to widen the rock wall so it will be a couple of feet deep. This will make it massive and hopefully keep it in place better than a single stacked layer of rocks.
|Back hillside, eventual lower rock wall.|
I have started my workout plan again. I am building a rock wall on the back hillside. I have a hard time exercising when I don’t get any thing out of it. This way I workout and get a rock wall! A twofer! The only real problem is I had a partial wall left over from ages ago and I want to move the rocks down the hillside. Some of the rocks weigh 200-300 pounds and when they start to roll there is no stopping them. I already have one down in the creek that I need to chain up and pull out with the tractor. It took off and I could not stop it.
|Back hillside, eventual upper rock wall.|
I dig a flat spot in the hillside and roll the rocks down to the flat spot. I want to get the wall started so I can start leveling the road on the other side of the fence and use that dirt to fill in my terraces. Plus, there will be lots of rocks when I start working on the road. I want a double terrace at a minimum. There is a far section of the hillside where I might add a third terrace. On the positive side I will not run out of rocks. The back hillside is covered with them and these puny little rock walls will not use them all up. I want the walls to be about four feet high. This is a long term project that I just whittle away at whenever I get a chance. I usually only spend 30-60 minutes on it at a time. You can see our weather station mounted on the back fence. It has recorded wind speeds of up to 60 mph. Unfortunately, the back hillside doesn’t get as much wind as the front porch. We are thinking about installing a second weather station down near the front creek over in the ram pasture.
|Upper hay doors now latched, take that wind!|
One of the consequences of cleaning out my tools from the barn so that Annmarie can have her tack room is the tools have to go somewhere. That somewhere is the empty floor space in the old house. You can walk in the front door and stare at the mess now. So next week the girls and I will go out and organize and clean up the old house. I have two new spaces, drawers and a huge new toolbox (used) to fill so I just need to sort everything and find it a home.
|Old house, tools from the barn.|
The old house is quickly moving up on the priority list. It keeps settling or the concrete blocks keep crumbling. My vote is on the concrete blocks. I need to jack it up and relevel the whole house. Probably, take me about five days to get it all done. Once that is completed then I can rip out the center wall and start wiring the house with 220v and 110v for the wood shop.
|Machine shop Southern exposure getting some metal siding.|
|Tack room completed.|
Donna is getting our end of the machine shop covered in tin. She is doing a side at a time.
My nephew came over today and helped me out. We finished putting up the first layer of siding. I have been putting a few pieces on whenever time allows, but I have to have help. Someone has to hold up the board while I screw it on at the top. We put the last piece on first thing this morning but had to stop due to the high winds. When the ladder moved with me on it I figured it was time to be done. I still need to put a whole second layer over this one. We figured it lasted over 100 years the first time this way.
We moved into the barn and finished up the tack room. We installed the boards at the ceiling height so that large wild animals could not get in. There is no way I am going to be able to keep the mice out. We will just keep some rat poison on the shelves so the animals cannot get to it but the mice can. The second saddle rack was finished today and a few more hooks installed. Gannon cleaned out all the tools from the tack room and brought over the tack. It looks great.
|First layer completed today.|
The inside of the barn is looking good and the sheep greatly appreciate it. I also attached latches to both the sliding doors. Annmarie talked me into just copying from her ancestors. I cut a hole in both doors and then attached a chain on the inside to the wall. That way you can just reach inside the hole and unlatch the door. Works well, my holes aren’t very round but the sawzall was quick. Just count it as operator inexperience.
|Y gate filled with dirt.|
When I was working on the barn roof this summer I left enough tin hanging over the sides so that I could screw them onto the sides so the wind could not blow the tin off. Of course, this only works if I had actually screwed down the roofing. We have had high winds for almost a week now and the tin on the edge of the barn was getting ready to rip off. Unfortunately, grabbing ahold of tin roofing in 40 mph wind is not very conducive to five fingered endeavors. Yesterday the wind stopped and I crawled up onto a ladder and actually attached the roof to the wall. No way it would have lasted another day. It had torn in one place already and was cracking around the screws on the outer edge. I really had planned on getting to that…
I had to fill the Y gate enclosure with dirt. The sheep had started crawling under the gate.
|Baby chicks getting bigger.|
The baby chickens are growing and doing well. We still don’t know what kind of chicken the white ones are. I was thinking I would need to thin out the adult chickens so I could tell the new ones apart as they grew up, but I don’t have any other Ameracauna adult chickens. I still have 17 hens and one rooster. I think the chicken’s productivity is down but I won’t know until the end of the year when I do the quarterly report.
I fired up the tractor to help clean up the orchard. Mr. President came over and worked for 12 hours helping to pick up the dead branches and wind blown trash. Most of the orchard got cleaned up before he got sick. I had the tractor out of the shed to drag some larger tree trunks to the burn pile. I decided to level the hill out in the orchard so I don’t have any trouble mowing in the spring. There were some large rocks sticking up and creating a mowing hazard. As a side benefit I had to pick up rocks and Donna needed them for yard decoration so I took them over to her house. The burn pile is getting big. I currently have three separate piles going over the place now. All will have to wait for the weather to turn.
|Back creek running again.|
The back creek is running again. This is a good sign for moisture content in the mountains. Or a bad sign that all the snow is melting off the mountains early. As you can see in the picture the wind has been blowing lots! The weeds are starting to pile up in the fences all over the farm. I need the wind to die down and a few days of rain or snow before I go out and deal with the weeds. The worst part is going to be digging the weeds out of the fence before burning them. I don’t want to replace any more fencing next year. I had enough of that this year.
Annmarie told me I wasn’t taking enough artistic photos of the farm lately so I decided every time I have the camera I need to shoot a few artsy fartsy photos. One can never have enough pictures of the chicken coop.
The cows are still outside the pen running around the machine shop and cars. They don’t eat cars, they don’t run through every little hole in the fence and they aren’t tearing the place up in general. We like them. We had just been feeding them over the fence when we feed the horses and sheep. So now they run over and wait for food. The bull will even holler when we don’t get over there soon enough to give them food. Otherwise, the cows are very quiet.
|Breeze porch, ceiling still needs second coat of paint.|
The other day Mother Nature let it be known that I had chicken coop issues. In the middle of the night the wind started to howl. Annmarie checked our weather station and we recorded winds over 60 MPH. The next day when Sarah went to get eggs it was discovered that my wall was trying to blow over. The door acted like a kite and it blew over this wall. I don’t have the posts very far into the ground as I couldn’t dig them very far. I will have to put up a board between the coop and wall and then a cable tightening the two together. Once that is done I will probably set both those posts in concrete. Otherwise they just will not stay now that they have been loosened.
This is a priority but with my schedule that means next week at the earliest.
I did manage to get a second coat of paint onto the breeze porch walls. I ran out of paint before I could finish the ceiling. The walls completed will let me reinstall the lights and thermostat. I will have to pick up another gallon of paint and a gallon of primer. The old primer was hard to mix and kinda curdled. Time for it to go away. Trouble is it takes forever to dry out in the winter. It has to be dry before you can throw it in the trash.