|Starting point this morning. Notice woodpecker holes in side of barn.
Jason was here early this morning so we could try and beat the heat on the barn roof. We got up onto the low portion of the barn roof and discussed how to get up the next 16 feet to the peak. There was an old rickety falling apart wooden ladder barely attached and I suggested using it. Jason didn’t seem real keen on the idea. We didn’t have safety gear on yet because the anchor needs to be attached to the peak of the roof. He went to get the tractor so we could throw a rope over the roof and tie it off to the tractor. While he was doing that I crawled up the rickety wooden ladder and made it to the peak. We attached our safety harness hooks to the peak of the roof and then tied in.
We took down all the peak ridge metal and then tore out the hay turbinators. Jason cut out the four vent holes and we are ready for metal roofing. It was a collective agreement that I will have to rent a boom to do the far side of the barn. It is just too steep and we need a way to bring up the cupola pieces. So I am going to have to price out the rental on a boom.
|Patches to the barn.
While Jason finished cutting the holes in the roof I patched the side of the barn. There were several holes from the woodpeckers and I cut tin to fit and attached them to the barn. Only one hole had an old nest from this spring. I had been wanting to get that done since last year. At noon we were burning up from the heat and decided that putting on siding was better than being on the roof. So we moved to the front end of the barn and put on the second layer of siding. We only have two pieces left and the front of the barn will be done until winter.
I want to redo a couple of boards over by the honey bee nest and redirect them to a higher entrance on the barn wall. This will have to be done when the bees are dormant as I don’t want to get stung 50 times. We even put in horse tying anchors on the side of the barn for Annmarie. It was over 100 degrees and miserable. We each drank over a gallon of water and lost five pounds. The latch we found for the gate had a previous life as something, we just are not sure what it was. It works great and I just need to attach the chain better to hold it up higher so it is easier to put on the gate.
|The whole farm. It looks very nice from the air.
It is going to be a long three days. I have Jason coming for three days to help me out and get some progress on the barn. There is always more to do no matter how much gets done. The important part is to work on the critical issues. Annmarie usually keeps me on track as I get easily distracted. Yesterday, Jason and I got the wooden oak trim in place on the kitchen counter faces. I need to cover the nail holes and it will be ready for primer then a fancy epoxy/paint treatment to make it look like some form of natural rock. It was cheap and it is supposed to be hardy. We wanted a quick change from the bright orange veneer that is currently our countertops. This winter I will tile the backsplash and kitchen window.
|Barn floor getting repaired.
We then moved on to the barn floor. It had a huge buckle near the front and needed to be torn up and reapplied. It got very wet from the water running off the roof down into the barn and I didn’t finish screwing the floor down last year. It took us about four hours to fix it and I ended up burning up another Makita impact hammer. This is the second one in two years that has literally burned up. They get so hot you cannot touch them and smoke comes out of them. Well I was smart and bought Home Depot’s 2 year guarantee! So after three phone calls I learn that Makita has a three year guarantee and Home Depot doesn’t cover until year four and five, plus you have to have the original receipt. I had the receipt because of taxes for the farm and finally get a hold of Makita. I have to send the impact hammer to a repair shop in Pasco. It should only “take a couple of weeks” per the man on the phone. I went and bought another Makita impact hammer from Home Depot, no home depot guarantee, and will send my one year old broken one out for repair. I suspect I may get the new one to last through this year. As soon as my old one is repaired I am using it nonstop. I have four more years of use time in it and I am going to get every last one.
Today, Jason, my nephew Gannon and a friend came over so we could pickup hay from the field and load it into the barn. First thing we did was to stand up the old grain mixer in the barn. It took all four of us. Last year we tried it with three people and could not stand it up. It takes up a lot less space upright. It took us 4.5 hours to move seven ton of hay and get it all stacked neatly in the barn. We ended up having to stack it five bales high to get it all to fit. Zeke go to catch some mice when we took last years hay out of the old lamb shed and moved it into the main barn. He likes to catch and kill them, he is not into eating them. The teenagers left after lunch and we went back out to do more work.
It was 93 degrees outside so I made an executive decision to not get up on the roof. We will hit that first thing in the morning tomorrow. Instead we worked on adding a second layer to the barn siding and getting the barn corner fixed so we could attach the gate to the side of the barn and close off the nursery area. I still need to go down and fix the creek crossing as the sheep can just go right under the fence at the creek. We had some issues with the yellow jackets and Jason got stung on the cheek. I ended up getting stung on the arm also. They were not happy with us banging and cutting stuff on the outside of the barn. I of course do not have any hornet spray at the house. The gate was pretty heavy after we installed it and the far side kept sagging so we had to find a bracket to attach to the barn so we could then attach a cable to the gate, therefore not changing the cable length when the gate was opened and closed. We had to dig through the old scrap metal pile and ended up using an old heavy discarded hinge that we bent using the vice and a large chunk of metal. The gate works great now and just needs a securing latch. We decided to quit a little early as both of us were very tired.
I finished! The sheep are now out on lots of pasture, probably around 20 acres. They of course, are staying on the back rocky hillside most of the time. I never could have done it without the help of my nephew Gannon. He helped me the last two days and cleaned up the day after we finished. It was a close call, I was not sure it was going to make it but the sheep needed more pasture. On the plus side the next fence I will be building will be up by the hand dug well. I want to subdivide the upper pasture a few times and that is the first place I want to do it at. I even mowed a path earlier with the tractor. But future fencing is on hold until the barn roof, floor and gate get installed. This upcoming week we will be moving the hay around and going and picking up the hay that was just baled to put it in the barn for winter feeding.
I decided on a cupola plan today. I was trying to figure out how to keep the rain from getting under the cupola sides. I am going to install the metal roof first then screw down 4×4 bases over the metal to use as attachment points for the cupola. I will squirt a little insulation foam under the 4×4 to seal it and run the cupola metal walls right down to the metal roof. It should not leak at all. I just need to purchase the cupola side vents from Home Depot and I will have everything I need except maybe some 2×4 for the cupola frame.
I dropped off our irrigation pump to be repaired and have called three times to check up on it and have still not heard back from the pump guy yet. I will be calling again on Monday. Our three black walnut trees I transplanted into the ram pasture are still alive and hanging in there.
Our bull has decided he needs to leave the orchard whenever he chooses. He lifts the panels over the creek with his horns and then walks under them. We secured one crossing and the next day he went to the other crossing. The cows are now back out among the cars in the front area. We are going to just open the main gate into the orchard so the cows can come and go as they please. We are watering both the ram pasture and the orchard to get them to snap back.
We had our last calf born last week sometime. We are not sure exactly when it happened as the heifer had been hiding him in the tall grass. I snuck out and took a peak and it is a little boy. This works out great for us as we will not have to separate them from the adult herd at 6 months of age. We thought this last heifer (#1121) was a couple of months behind the other two heifers. We were wrong and the other heifers are probably already pregnant because the bull has been working overtime since those babies were born.
We have been making plans to start resurfacing our kitchen counters this summer. We are putting an epoxy based paint on that looks like granite. We did go and research tiles for back splash and window covering. Unfortunately, that is going to cost real money, around $1000. Which is not bad considering we are installing them ourselves.
I am back at the fencing with a vengeance. I enlisted my nephew to help today and tomorrow to get it all completed in time. The sheep are in the orchard with the cows and the grass is quickly disappearing. The sheep did a great job on the back hillside there is not a single green leafed any thing left. I am hoping they will do the same on the rest of the hillside once we let them out. The current fence will open up the entire lower pasture down to the dividing fence, almost 10 acres. It should keep the cows and sheep busy for the rest of the summer. We will water the closer pastures and get them back up to a respectable grass height. I would like to keep all the animals off of the close pastures till late fall so they can eat the summer grass in the fall and we can delay feeding a couple of weeks. We will see how it goes. The wooden stays we purchased earlier had to be moved so the machine shop siding can be installed, we were 44 stays short so I had to contact the seller to send the rest. My scrap metal guy called last night to ask me if I was still interested in more woven wire fencing. So this morning I ran out to a neighbor’s house and dug out five rolls of woven wire, another 350#. I have canceled my standing order for fencing as of today. We have extra fencing now and I think I even have enough to do the upper bottom division next year. My current request is for four gates. I am still making monthly payments to the scrap metal guy and have still not received a bill. I bug him every couple of weeks and have made three months worth of payments without a single bill. I razzed the secretary today and she told me it was done on her part and waiting for Packy to approve it. I should have him all paid off by the end of the year. Regardless, at the end of the year I am stopping all automatic payments and waiting for a bill.
We were out in the orchard taking pictures of the new baby cow when the sheep came running over to great Annmarie. Then they got spooked and started jumping around like tops.
As soon as the fencing is done the barn is next. I need to fix the floor, do enough siding to get the gate up and running, put on both cupolas on the roof and finish metal roofing. The only thing I am missing are wind vanes to go on top of the cupolas.
The mule won’t start. I tried to move it tonight and got nothing. Annmarie had just told me it would not start and I asked if she had put it in neutral. The answer was no so I thought I could just go fire it right up. It did nothing, no noise no nothing. I need to charge the battery so I can move the mule. I bought spray last week and need to get it on the weeds.
I am man hear me roar! It is nighttime and sprout, our little brussels griffin, rang the bell to go outside. I told him yes and grabbed my tablet to finish this entry on the front porch. I started to sit down on the outside chair and then started grumbling about the cats. I had gotten eggs but forgot to take my basket inside and something had eaten two eggs and tipped the basket over. I went over and picked up the basket before sitting down. Then Sprout started throwing a tizzy and barking at the corner of the yard. I hollered at him to be quite and went back to typing. He kept it up so I looked up again and saw him dancing around an animal in the front yard. I thought it was a cat, after further scrutiny it was a black cat with a white stripe down its back, skunk. I started calling Sprout frantically in an attempt to get him back on the porch before getting sprayed by the skunk. He was not having any of it, he kept circling the skunk and trying to get at it. Annmarie came out when I ran inside to grab my walther p-22. She got Sprout to come up to the porch. The skunk was limping so it must have been injured elsewhere and was looking for a free chicken dinner! Luckily, my electric powered automatic chicken door is working. Amazingly Sprout escaped unscathed and smelling like dog. I actually let it get out of the front yard before shooting it. It was very dark and I forgot to get a flashlight in my haste so Annmarie had to bring one out to verify that it was really dead. The smell eventually hit us and we knew it had expired. I will take it up to the boneyard in the morning. Farm 1, Predators 0.
Fencing with a vengeance again. I am now working on the fence that splits the lower pasture. There is a wobbly 2 strand fence with a few marginal rock jacks and some wooden stays there now. Yesterday, I drove in steel posts along the bottom. It is nice soil so it wasn’t too bad. I started up the rocky hillside and only managed to get 1.5 posts into the ground. It was awful. It was over 100 degrees by 1030 in the morning so I just quit. Last night I went out with my nephew near dark and we pounded in the rest of the steel posts all the way up the hillside! I was very happy that we got posts in the ground all the way up the hill. Another week of this hot weather and even with two people we would not have gotten the posts to drive into the ground. I will have to turn three rock cribs so they are out of the way of the fence and rebuild one rock crib. After those are done I can start stretching wire. Yesterday we rolled out woven wire alongside the new fence line so I will just have to lean it up and stretch it. I use three fence tighteners at once on the woven wire and it works pretty slick. Unfortunately, I ended up with 7 blisters after an hour of fence pole driving. My calluses are obviously gone. I had to pop the blisters this morning so I would be ready for work. My goal is to get this section done and then I just have two small sections and I can turn the sheep loose. Once they gain access to this new section we will not run out of pasture for the rest of the summer. We will even be able to run the cows in this lower section without fear of anyone escaping or running out of food.
I will post Sarah’s front rock wall progress occasionally. She is making progress. The back creek is dried up. I went and purchased another 10 gallons of 2-4-D for use on the fields. The star thistle is finally growing back. It is only about 5% of what it was last year so I want to see if I can totally get rid of it this year. I will be happy with killing 90% every year! It will just vanish eventually. The deer are everywhere. We have 5-10 living all around the houses. I am always afraid I will run over a baby hiding in the weeds, but they always leap up just before I hit them and run off. It can be quit startling. The pheasants are doing the same thing. I just about have to step on them to get them to fly . The pump repair guy did not call today so on Monday I will have to call and check up on the pump. When I was in buying chicken food I remembered to take in two old pitchfork heads to get new handles that fit. I found some handles and then stopped at my parent’s house and ground all the obvious rust off of them. There is a nice black patina over the tines now. I will hose them down with WD-40 so they don’t rust again. These are hand forged forks, nowadays these sell for around $60/each. The handles were only $15/each. A great deal, plus we now have four pitchforks out in the barn so you should be able to find one.
Annmarie had suggested (strongly) that I make some progress on something outside. Since it is over 100 degrees the water pump seemed like a priority. I needed to set a couple of concrete blocks on either side of the front creek, dig out the creek, fix the pump inlet pipe, run power to pump. All this seems simple but nothing is simple on the farm.
The creek is starting to fill in with vegetation and still has a nice layer of cow mud on the bottom. I got the blocks set in either side and the board some what level. I dug out the mud with a shovel then by hand. I drug the pump over and changed out the suction pipe. The original was too long. I got that fixed and set the pump up in it’s new home. The inlet was sitting down next to the mud, so I went and got an old clay pot to put under the inlet. I have several old nonfunctioning extension cords that I have been saving. I checked it with the voltmeter (had to change the battery in the voltmeter first) and then drug it out to the pump. It was long enough to reach (I forgot to check first) and I wired the motor, plugged it in after I primed the pump and got nothing. I then had to check the relay, it works and come to the conclusion that the pump is not moving. I unhooked every thing and drug it back up to the pickup so I can take it to town and get it fixed.
The back creek is almost dry. By the end of the week it will be dried up. No more snowmelt/rainfall fed stream till next year. All the more reason to get the irrigation pump working.
Tomorrow I will drop the pump off and then I can go onto fencing again. I will fill in the 2 strand fence with some metal posts and pile on rocks onto the rock cribs and then add some woven wire and a couple more strands of smooth wire to make a fence the sheep and cows cannot get through.
I wrapped wire around the back wild rose bush in an attempt to give it some relief from the sheep. One of the ewes this morning was using the fence to stand up on and reach up and eat more of the bush. This was not my plan. So now I need to add another fence even farther out!