Welding day.

It is done!  The front cattle guard is now completed. We have an iron rim fence on both sides and the rims are all welded together into one unit. I only had six rims left over when we were all done. Pretty good guessing on how many I would need. We had to shovel the ground bare before starting so no fires were caused. I had six gallons of water ready, but we didn’t start a single small little fire.  Very nice compared to the fire we started in the spring.  I will go across the road eventually and get a picture of the entire entrance.  It may take a while. 
I ran out of gate latches again so I had Jason weld another dozen and two of those are already needed plus I am installing two more gates next month.  In 8 months I will need another dozen. I need to start picking up scrap chain at the junkyard. I have used up everything I have found on the farm.  I snagged some cheap this summer at a couple of yard sales. I hang them on the fence so I don’t lose them. 
We loaded the two ton of straw into the barn and spread some out in the animal portion of the barn. Two tons of straw is 60 bales, so we have enough for two years.   Since Jason was welding, I had him put on two more chain hooks on the tractor.  I just need to hit them with a little John Deere green paint and it will be good to go. 
Sarah has been working on filling up the bridge concrete piers with dirt.  I will relevel the bridge in the spring after everything settles down.  I was thinking I was all ready for winter, but I still need to install the cross fence in the barn lot (sprinkler going now to soften dirt), fix fence by schoolhouse, install metal roofing on back wall of horse stalls so they quit cribbing the back wall, dig out stalls with tractor, install cow panel circles around new trees, transplant 12 black walnut trees and disc/replant upper prime pasture.  Just a few things before the ground freezes.  Oh and pull the pump out of front creek and replace pressure switch.  Good thing I have some vacation next month!
Another batch of gate latches ready to go.

Two ton of straw ready for a couple of winters.

Three hooks across my tractor bucket now!  I can really pick up stuff.

Ground water issues.

Rain drain

Apple tree third life.

I finished the front yard drain yesterday.  We had the under stair closet door shift this summer.  We realized that the rain pounding off the front corner of the house had beat the dirt away from the house and exposed the foundation.  I ended up putting almost 1.5 feet of dirt next to the foundation and another 6 inches of gravel.  To prevent the water from pounding through the rock and gravel we installed a four foot galvanized metal tank.  The tank is filled with another six inches of gravel.  Nothing is moving or shifting with that much gravel.  I still need to get some PVC fittings for the drain plug so I can attach a soaker hose onto the end of the tank. 

I also moved the apple tree from the front yard.  This is the third time it has been moved.  The horses and sheep almost killed it but it snapped back.  I have hopes it will survive this move.  I will put a cow panel around it to prevent the deer/sheep/horses/cows from eating on it for a few years.  The tree needs about five years of alone time before its trunk can be exposed to all those animals.  Sarah is going to expand the hole in the front yard and we are going to plant another tall shade tree.  Next month I should be planting all the yearling black walnut trees from Grandma Lane’s house.  I had two or three live from last year.  I will verify that when I am digging the new holes.  I am going to have to break down and buy cow panels to go around the small trees and roses to prevent the animals from foraging.  I would like to think this problem could be solved by moving the farm animals around, but not so.  The deer will cause damage just as much as the farm animals.

Tunnel stopper.

I finally got tired of Zeke just sprinting under the side fence bottom gap.  I moved a bunch of dirt from near the old chicken coop.  It needs a lot more dirt, but this will hopefully prevent Zeke from exciting the yard at a full run.  I will throw some grass seed on the dirt, but I need to wait until we have some straw.  Plus, the chickens are going to think the seed is feed. 

I am making arrangements to pick up 3 ton of straw today.  It has gone up in price again.  It is running $85/ton.  This should get us through at least two years, maybe three.  We will see. 

Bull is back!

Two days ago, Annmarie called me at work to say she saw the cows down in the school house pasture but did not have time to deal with them.  I was headed back from work and told her I would take care of it.  I drove home and counted all nine cows up by the apple tree.  I made sure I could see every one.  They were no where near the school house pasture.  I thought Annmarie was hallucinating.  Women are known to do this, just ask any guy.  I had promised I would walk the fence line to verify that there were no holes.  I wanted to do some weed eating and to finish filling the rock crib so I fired up the weed eater, topped it off with fuel and jumped into the tractor to go walk the fence line. 
 
I did not take any fencing tools.  Really, I wasn’t going to need them.  All nine cows were wandering around the lower pasture no where near the creek crossing that is the bull’s favorite escape route.  I toodled down to the creek crossing on the tractor and yes there was a huge hole!  He had ripped out one metal post and broken the woven wire in two places.  I said lots of colorful language and proceeded to drive a T post into the ground with a very large rock, rearranged all the panels and clipped them in such a way as to minimize any lateral movement.  I rewired the panels to the metal posts and then laid some wooden posts out to keep him away from the fence.  I am not sure it will hold.  I am probably going to have to sink some permanent posts about six feet out in an arc with wooden supports at waist high so he cannot reach the crossing.  He is very painful when it comes to creek crossings.  I had to apologize to Annmarie, she was right.
 
I then proceeded to clean up the farm entrance out by the cattle guard.  Once that was all done I cleared along the fence line.  I had to head back early to get ready for work.  As I am cruising down the driveway on the tractor I spot the coyote in the lower pasture.  I try to speed up the tractor, run into the house with a rifle and jump back onto the tractor.  I drove back down the road and the coyote was right at the ridgeline, barely visible.  I tried to get off a quick shot and forgot to turn off the safety before pulling the trigger.  He got away.  I drove all the way around the property and up into the CRP looking for him.  I never spotted him again.  I am gonna get that coyote eventually.  It needs to stay away from the house and it just keeps coming back. 
My temporary bull stopping fence patch.
Farm entrance cleaned up and weed eated.

Fencing, back at it.

My Favorite rock crib type!

Now that the barn roof is done I need to get back to providing more pasture for the animals.  The cows have cleared most of the lower pasture.  The school house pasture has been empty for a couple of months and looks great.  The only problem is it has several holes in the outside fence.  Its not horrible, but our cows will find the holes in a couple of days.  So I am building a rock crib down on the hillside by the creek.  It is totally out of sight from any road, so no one will see the super efficient bullet proof rock crib I am using.  Did I mention it was cheap also?  $25 per rock crib.  The only downside to this type of rock crib is it takes a lot of rocks!  About five times a normal rock crib.  Luckily, there are lots of rock piles to choose from but it does take a little more time to fill up.  It needs to be full so I cannot pull it over even a few inches.  It looks weird when I pull the top over even a couple of inches when tightening the fence. 
Clearing fence line.

I need to put in about 70 metal T posts and retighten the entire distal half of the back barley field fence.  I may have to move the last thirty feet up the hillside about four feet.  The current fence appears to be hanging in mid air.  I will need some dirt so I can actually drive in the T posts. 
I am hoping that in the next two weeks I can let the cows out into the bottom pasture.  We may even let the horses down there, not sure about that, will have to ask wife what she would like done. 

I took the tractor down and scraped along the fence line to clean it up.  Don’t really want to use the mower and catch a loose piece of wire and rip down the fence.  Once I have repaired the fence it will be safe to run the mower alongside it. 

Cleanup done.

Barley field gates installed.

Mr. President came out today for one last hoorah.  We finished installing the barley field gates and were headed back to the barn when I commented that the gates were not very even.  Being a sage old soul, Mr. President suggested we go back and fix said gates before any criticism was offered.  On the way back to the house I let this idea percolate and decided that it was a good one.  We drove back down to the gate and spent another 35 minutes fixing the gate on the left.  I will still have to take the tractor up and drag some dirt away from the backside of the right gate to get it to open fully.  The gates are 18 feet long and are heavy so they tend to drag on the ground. 

We did do a loop around the property and we spotted both little buck mule deer that are living on the place.  I think my dad may have a chance at shooting a deer this year.  Hopefully, it will happen. 

We spent the next three hours cleaning all the tools out of the barn.  Between the fencing and the roof I had tools strewn all over the barn.  We tossed all the trash and tools into the back of the pickup and dropped them off at the lamb shed, chicken coop, old house, scrap metal pile, trailer and trash can.  I still have about an hours worth of tool sorting and organizing left in the old house.  We also managed to clear a spot in the other hay bay for the straw I am going to pick up next week.  I did leave the saws out in the barn.  I want to work on the overhead loft over the sheep jugs.  There is so much lumber that I need to get some of it used up.  I also need to install a floor in the old “L” shaped granary overhead.  I am thinking about installing a door from the room above the tack room into this room.  I also need to build an overhead platform near the upper window opening.  Then I can build a window frame and install the window.  Without the platform the window will not be possible as it is not safe to work on. 

I have quite a bit of vacation coming up so I plan on seeing if the disc for the tractor will work and tear up some ground and plant some new pasture grass.  As a side benefit I am hoping this will smooth out some of the fields.  They are very lumpy.   

Barn roof day 11, vindication!

NE side of the barn, 100% recycled roofing.

It really happened, I finished the barn roof!  Mr. President and I got out there first thing this morning.  The wind was worse than when we quit yesterday but I was determined to get it done.  We managed to install two pieces of tin before it got so bad I was afraid I was going to get blown off the end of the barn.  I had to hang off the edge to get the end piece on.  We got down and went out to the gate opening near four corners to hang the double gates going into the old barley field.  I managed to get one 4×4 attached to a rock crib and started on the second one when Mr. President made the keen observation that the wind was dying down.  We dropped every thing and went back to the barn roof to finish the job.  Three hours later it was completed.  No reason to get on the roof again.  Annmarie was thinking about another weather vane but I am thinking the next one needs to go on the old lamb shed/tractor shed not the barn. 

I am very glad we are done.  I would have had to take tomorrow off, I ache all over.  The fear of falling and the wind made me very nervous causing me to tense up every muscle in my body.  Having to reach over the side of the roof to put in screws made me stretch out also.  I have about eight different cuts and scratches all over my arms from the tin and the screws.  Tomorrow is Mr. President’s last day.  We are going to finish the gates and spend about three hours putting all the tools away and finish up the barn cleaning.  I still need to make a spot for the three tons of straw I am going to get next week.  I will break out the flat bed trailer for that endeavor.  It took two years to complete but it should buy the barn another 50 years of life.  Not bad for a building that is over 110 years old already. 
 

SW side of the barn all new siding.

Barn roof day 10.



 
I was hoping to finish the barn roof today.  Mother Nature had other plans.  The wind was just starting to blow when I crawled up on the roof.  I managed to get the back side flashing attached but when Mr. President tried to get the first sheet up he started blowing sideways on the ground.  There was no way we were going to get the roofing up the ladder. 
 
I had to crawl off the roof.   My hopes for finishing today crushed.  We went inside the barn and started to clean up and put tools and supplies away.  I cut a new lid for the grain storage bin and wrapped tin around the hole in the lid to keep the rodents away from the grain.  I still need to put a hinge on the new lid and a latch.  I don’t think the raccoons will slide down a dark one way hole but you never know.  This is a winter project.  I looked for a hinge laying around but did not find one in the old house.  I did find a locking latch that would work. 
 
Gary from work came out and he was pulling nails from old boards in the unused hay area.  It has a hole cut in the side of the barn to allow light in that we had covered with a rug to keep the rain off the hay.  I mentioned it needed a window.  The conversation just kind of took off and I went and found a window from my stash that would fit.  It was a brand new vinyl window I picked up at a yard sale for $25.  As an added bonus, it is frosted so I will not have to make a curtain on the inside to keep the sunlight off the hay.  We got it installed and framed out on the outside.  I covered the inside with a piece of cow panel so we can stack hay up next to the window and not worry about breaking the window.  It even slides open in case we need the ventilation.  I am really hoping the weather cooperates tomorrow.

  

Foiled by the wind!
Side Window installed.

Turbinator lid and skirting