Cooktop works!

Ready for cooktop install.

The morning started out fairly calm.  Annmarie asked me why I did not lock the sheep up last night.  I said I did, she noted the many sheep on the back hillside.  She was putting on makeup in the mirror propped up in the window.  I deigned to get out of bed to verify for myself.  I believed her.  It dawned on me while I lay there in our cozy warm bed that I had forgotten to shut the barn door.  The reason is after I fed everyone Zeke and I were leaving the barn and a whole bunch of sheep had their heads in the nearest feeder.  Zeke darted past them on the way to the door, he made sure to swerve as close as possible to the sheep on his way out.  This spooked the sheep who still had their heads in the feeder.  Two of the feeders are chained together and the sheep were all on the far side causing the feeders to be pulled over.  One young boy, about three months old, got stuck underneath the feeders with his head still stuck through into the hay!  I had to go back into the barn and put the feeders up so he could pull his head out and run away.  I then spent a couple of minutes lecturing the sheep about their bad eating habits and flighty behavior.  I was still ranting as I left the barn.  I forgot to shut the door.  Annmarie wanted to know if I really ranted at the sheep.  Of course I did!  This becomes a bigger issue when the weather gets nicer.  The sheep will go out on the back hillside and decide to start roll call at 0300.  We sleep with our bedroom windows open year round.  It is very noisy. 

The hamster corpse was starting to get to me.  Not so bad that I was willing to cut out a one foot by twenty foot section out of the dining room wall, but it was starting to smell really bad.  This morning I needed a rag to finish cleaning up my grout on the backsplash so I opened up the door of the deep sink utility cabinet and the smell was awful and I saw gerbil poop on the floor.  I found the dead gerbil.  I made Sarah come down and clean up the entire mess, wash all the rags and bleach everything.  I think she may need to use vinegar on everything now.  It is much better than it was but it has not gone away yet.  Here’s to hoping the smell doesn’t last much longer. 

I grouted the backsplash tile I installed last night and then painted the walls where the cooktop was going to be installed.  Once that was done I had the child come down and help me install the cabinet. We got it in place and then leveled it front to back and side to side.  It is perfectly level so our gas heat should be even.   Once that was in place we installed the downdraft fan.  I got it all screwed into the top and plugged in and made sure it did not hit the window board.  The temporary board is the same depth I want the finished board located.  I need a new blade on my table saw before I cut the finish board.  It smoked and burned my oak top when I cut it.  The cooktop was next and dropped right in.  It has two anchors on the side and it overlaps the vent fan.  We are very happy with how it turned out.  I took a second picture once the sun went down so you could see it lit. 


Works!  Just needs downdraft fan exhaust cut in floor and then we need to decide on front facing or drawers.

Progress on stovetop

It fit finally!

I did it, I got it to fit.  It was not easy.  I tried the frame without any top and found out that my lower board for the exhaust fan was too high.  I could not lower the fan enough.  I had to cut a new board and lower it.  I tried to install the butcher block top and could not get it to fit. I had to take little cuts three separate times and finally just brought the jigsaw inside and cut it in place.  I even made sure I could shut off the gas!  The lowest point on the floor is the front right corner which would explain why that spot on our current stove is the hottest.  I adjusted the fan three times to get the height right. I even plugged it in and showed Annmarie how it went up and down.  I think this is going to look great!  My biggest issue was it was stuck in place.  Once Annmarie reminded me it needs to come out I encouraged it enough to get it out intact.  The backsplash needs to be finished and the back wall painted. 

Stove top and fan together.

Backsplash in place and drying.

I still need to finish the butcher block top.  I am just going to use an olive oil rub on the whole thing like I did with our last one.  When it looks a little dry I just break out some more olive oil.  It works great and looks good.  My only regret is I have to cut into the floor to install the exhaust vent.  I am not really looking forward to that portion of the job.  I got all the backsplash installed and a heater going on it so I can grout it in the morning.  I can get a coat of primer on and then some paint in the afternoon.  I don’t want to disconnect our stove until I have that special putty I need to put on the gas line connection to the cooktop.  Once the cooktop is in place I will cut a hole in the floor for the exhaust pipe.  I need to get the rest of the exhaust pipe so I can vent it outside the house.  I will order the exhaust vent tomorrow.  My goal is to get this up and running before Sunday and pickup the stove on Tuesday morning.  I will stop by the lumber yard at the same time and pickup some 2×4.  I think I have enough tongue and groove at the house to do both sides.  I have plywood for that project also.  I will keep the purchases down until I start to run out of supplies.  I don’t want to get too far ahead of the items being built. 

Tragedy has struck again, another chicken died.  Out of the blue and with no signs and symptoms of illness.  I will be calling the county extension agency tomorrow to see if they want to test the bird or if it just needs to be disposed.  Of course it had to be a hen and not one of the two roosters.  It was one of my buff orpington babies that just started laying. 

The gerbil is still making his presence known in the house even in death.  He fell down into one of the walls near the dining room and laundry room.  We are not sure which section of wall he is in nor how far down the wall his corpse is located.  He is stinking the place up.  We have a window open and the odor absorber open.  Luckily, I don’t think he can stink forever.  It is just not worth the effort to cut open every wall until I find it.   That sounds like a nightmare.  Eventually, he will become a mummy and the smell will go away. 

Stovetop custom cabinet.

Wrong, do over time.

It had to happen, I can only put off working on a project for so long before it gets noticed.  I was sure I had actually managed to buy all the needed supplies for the stovetop cabinet but was unsure where to start.  Plus, I did have to catch up on a bunch of little things around the house.  Yesterday, I started back in on the kitchen project.  I had purchased some six foot lengths of black iron pipe so I could move over my pipe clamps to longer lengths.  This worked out very well.  Each pipe clamp assembly goes for about $35 so just getting a new chunk of pipe saved a lot of money.  I found several clamps I had forgotten about.  I picked them up at a yard sale last year for $5/each, a great find!  I assembled the entire frame and was trying to install the long pieces but was having issues with the wood splitting.  I had split the top out of one leg in two different directions and was trying to figure out how to repair it when I noticed my mistake.  I had shortened the very front piece to make a toe cutout so when you stand next to the cupboard your foot slides under the countertop, thus allowing your body to be closer and you don’t have to lean.  I did not do a perfect mirror image and ended up with the cutout on opposite sides!  This worked out in the long run as I replaced the board that had been split twice.  Unfortunately, I had only purchased exactly as much lumber as I needed.  So the dogs and I had to go to town.  While at the lumber store I complained about the wood splitting and was sold a countersink to start the holes.  It was a life saver, and made all the difference. 

Corrected stand, butcher block top drying.

Once the stand was completed correctly I went out to assemble the butcher block top.  I am using oak flooring.  I just glued it at each joint and then clamped it all together.  Since I am cutting out the majority of the countertop, there is only 7 inches on each side and 2 inches front and back, I opted to glue the boards on their long sides.  I thought this would give me a wider look to the space.  I cut out the 3/4 inch plywood square that goes underneath it also.  Today, I will cut out the hole and drop the pieces into it as a test fit before I cut out the butcher block top.  I want it to work first. 

Workshop space!

I do all my woodwork on the old house porch.  If I would clean out the old house and wire in some electricity I might be able to use it!  Oh to have more time for the little projects.  Eventually, I will get this done. 

Cooktop planning.

Cooktop plans for oak countertop.  upside down.

I went shopping today for all the things I thought I would need for the cooktop cupboard.  I went to the flooring place and found 15 square feet of oak flooring to use as the countertop.  I went and picked up the actual gas cook top.  I then went to the hardware store and picked up a pipe clamp and three 5 foot sections of iron pipe so I can glue the oak flooring together and then once dry use a router to cut the center hole for the cooktop and downdraft fan.  Next was a trip to the lumber store for a piece of 3/4 inch plywood for the top of the cupboard.  I will attach the oak to this.  It will make a nice stable top.  Especially, since I am going to cut out most of the both of these.  At home I had to unload everything.  The cook top was manageable for one person.  The appliance store owner warned me that I would need help with the oven.  She said it weighs almost 200 pounds.  No way I can move that into the house by myself.  I may very well make the shell of the oven cupboards out of 2×4 material.  I think I need to for the weight requirements.  I am just going to use 1×4 for the cooktop. 

I dug through and found the instructions for the cook top and the downdraft fan and sat down and started to draw up a set of plans!  I never do this but combining multiple pieces together and getting them to fit and look good means I actually need a plan with some accurate measurements.  I kept going back and measuring each appliance to make sure I was getting things right.  A few problems arose. The floor is not level where the stove is currently sitting.  We knew this but there is a 1/4 inch difference from the front to the back.  Eventually, we want to tile the kitchen which will change the height of the countertop.  I am accounting for this by cutting the counter 1/4 inch short and then installing and shimming it up and screwing in a 1×4 along the length of the floor, this allows me to correct the height difference and remove this and adjust it at a later date.  Both items are equally important when building this cupboard.  I did get a pleasant surprise the custom cupboard will be shallower than our current oven so I think our doors on the left side will be more easily accessed.  I cannot really figure out where the drawers storage will go until the stove top and fan are installed.  It looks like I am going to have to cut down through the floor to vent the down draft fan.  There is no other good way to do it.  On the plus side I can cut a square hole which will make it easier.  I just need to find an outside vent.  I am going to look for a square one.  I have only found round ones in my internet searches to date.  Once I get this all installed we will not have an oven.  This will really put a squeeze on that project.  There will be some added pressure to get it done!  I will start taking measurements so I can purchase the wire, breaker and 220V outlet.  I have a line on the boards from a local custom cutter.  Using a 2×4 frame will make it easier.  I will just build a box out of them and then side it and line it.  I won’t worry about it collapsing if I do that.  The bonus will be I can have the oven in a frame and fully functional!  That will give me some time to sheath it and make it all pretty.  I will also make it freestanding so when we redo the floor it will be self adjusting with the other two cupboards. 

cooktop cupboard, upside down.

Fire, Fire and more Fire!

Right arm fire damage.

I just want it known that this farmer crap is not as easy as reading a book.  Nor after listening to many tall tales about how it used to be done.  I truly believe that the school of hard knocks is how most farmers learn.  What most farmers don’t do is keep a blog!  An honest account of the actual things that occur on a farm.  I want it known that I have been very truthful over the years and try not to spare the reader the pretense that all is golden when working on a farm.  I try and paint a picture of the reality so that future readers can truly understand what our life entailed.  We print each years blog out as a hard cover book for our living room coffee table.  There will be no questions about what was done to the place by future generations.  They will be able to read up on all the improvements and changes. 

Today started out like any other day.  A little frost on the ground with the sun shining and a nice blue sky softened by the occasional white fluffy cloud.

Huge dent in tractor hood.

I went down to my mother-in-law’s house to trim her front yard trees.  A couple of hours later and there were three nicely shaped trees.  Sarah texted me and Zeke and I went to town in the pickup for lunch with the family and friends.  Zeke had stayed in the back of the pickup the entire time I trimmed on the trees.  He never once tried to jump out.  His reward was getting to ride to town with me.  He loves riding in the back of the pickup.  While I was trimming the trees the alpacas did some fighting and running and tried to call the sheep over to them.  They make all sorts of weird noises.  I had no idea they were that vocal.  After lunch, Annmarie and I ran some errands and then Zeke and I came home.  I had told Annmarie I would clean up the horse feeder area, as the manure was getting deep.  So my trusty tractor and I cleaned out the square pen, I dumped it over the fence then got into the barn lot and cleaned out the feed stalls.  I ended up piling everything in one corner of the little horse lot.  The lot slants severely and I would like to level it.  So I am going to start stacking the manure and dirt to make a level area.  There was still daylight to burn so I decided to start burning weeds in the fence line.  I had been wanting to do it for the last month but I had been working on the kitchen.  I had a new plan of attack.  Instead of wrestling the 30 gallon tank into the back of the pickup I would use the tractor, it seemed reasonable.  I put the tank into the bucket upright and used a long chain to go around it three time and once through the top so it couldn’t fall forward.  I turned the tank on and light the weed burner on the first try.  I was in business.  I burned the fence line out behind the grain bins.  It gets hot but as long as I wear a long sleeve shirt its not too bad.  The weeds are burning hot and fast and as soon as the fire hits the stubble it stops and self extinguishes.  It was perfect and there was a slight breeze away from me so I didn’t even have to breathe any smoke.  I did that whole fence line and started my way on the next section of fencing.

 About half way down the fence was some old spiked wheel thing that you drag behind the large tractor to break up dirt clods.  Donna and I had just talked about selling the old tractor and big equipment today so I decided that the weeds needed to be burned so I could take a picture.  I waded into the piece of equipment and started a couple of small fires to my left then one to my right and then turned back to my left to start a couple of more.  Did I say the wind was coming from my right side?  It started to get hot with all that fire around me so I stepped away from the flames but my right arm kept getting hotter and hotter.  It took me about ten seconds to realize I was on fire!  I could not see any flames as it was just above my elbow on the back of my arm.  I tried to get my outer shirt off but my cuffs were too tight and my leather gloves would not come off.  I jumped around and
managed to get my glove and outer shirt off.  Phew, saved or so I thought, my arm was still on fire!  The inside shirt was on fire.  I had to just reach over and smash the flames out.  Once I was sure no other part of my body was on fire I went back to burning. It hurt, but I could tell it was only a second degree burn and the skin had just been burnt off.  There was some burnt hair but no blisters as the skin was all burnt off.  There was work to be done!  Annmarie came out about five minutes later asking me to be done with the burning.  I really wanted to get down the driveway and had just gotten to the next corner of the fence.  After a short discussion  we went over and fed the alpacas and got to touch two different ones.  I went back to complete some more burning.  I was going to have to go over a large hill so I lifted the bucket with my propane tank high into the air.  The damn thing leaped out of the bucket backwards and smashed down onto the hood of my tractor!  It was awful.  I instantly killed the tractor engine assuming the radiator had just gotten smashed in.  I lifted the tractor hood and there was no engine contact just a huge dent.  I chained that bad boy back to the bucket with an extra loop under the bucket securing the tank from the bottom so it could not fall off in any direction.  I sure wish I had thought of that sooner. I fired that tractor back up and proceeded to continue burning!  Later, a hammer will fix that dent.  I made it all the way to the end of the driveway before it started to get dark.  I have the last ten feet of fence and the cattle guard to burn and I will be done.  I then went and fed all the rest of the animals and gave the horses some fresh straw in their stalls.  The chickens are really starting to lay eggs so spring time must be near. 
The worse part of this day was I considered downplaying the dent in the tractor hood but Annmarie witnessed it! 

I do have a few takeaways from this day.  Natural fibers are my friend!  NO more synthetic crap, I will only be wearing cotton and wool to work around the farm.  Wool would not have burned like that.  Always attach everything inside the tractor bucket from all directions.  The alpaca are tamer than we expected them to be.  On a plus side, I destroyed no fence today and my arm will be healed by the end of the week.  I will say that Annmarie did have to run into the bathroom and ask if there was anything wrong while I was showering.  I debrided the burn with a washcloth and some soap until I had all the burned hair and skin removed.  It did not feel good, after a few minutes it just got numb from too much stimulation, or else I just got numb to the pain.  I let a few good choice words cleaning up.  All is well and hopefully I can finish the burning this week and be done till early winter.