House leveling day 2

50% completed

I spent yesterday cleaning up the front yard. Once I got all the trash out of the yard I decided that it needed to be finished so I could call the yard side done. I built  a new set of stairs out of all pressure treated wood. They look odd as they are the only true level part of the house. They are nice and sturdy, secure and a foot wider than they used to be.   We had water runoff issues where it was pounding a low spot into the corner of the yard. I filled it with dirt then I attached a 4×4 and filled it all with decorative rock.  The metal bucket is half full of rock and let’s the water pound down without hurting the wood skirting.  Once everything was perfect in the yard I went behind the house and started to tear out the skirt

hand hewn post

I decided to just cut holes in one section near the back porch so I didn’t have to replace all of the skirting.  I did find a couple of hand hewn timbers on the main section of the building.  There were originally only two rooms in the house.  The large front room was an addition and the two small rooms on the back near the creek were additions.  The two small rooms were a kitchen with running water and an indoor outhouse.  I found the hole cut in the floor!
I jacked up the house using the door as an indicator of where it used to be.  The back addition I just kept jacking up till the house complained a lot.  I ended up having to dig about 10 inches of dust/dirt out from under the kitchen/bathroom area.  I still have more of the old concrete blocks from the barn so I am not sure where they will be used.  The 20 ton hydraulic jacks worked very well.  I have one that just does not want to go down even when you open the hydraulic valve.  There is always THAT one noncompliant thing.  
Back addition, kitchen and bathroom

I want to do a little more trimming on the bush on this side.  It had a side die last winter and it needs to be cut out.  I have started to water both of these bushes this week.  We had not been giving them any water this year.  I hope this will help them perk up.

We now have 16 baby chicks!  We went out to the coop yesterday and there was another baby chicken in the coop.  Momma must have carried the baby up into the coop.  They tuck them under their wings and move them that way.  Everyone looks good and is still alive.

I realize it is not perfect, just better than it was and it will last till I am dead now. 

Old house repair in progress.

It has begun. Yesterday evening we ripped off the old house skirting and today we worked on leveling the old house.     First we put all five jacks into play. But, the level kept saying the house was level but the Windows would not open or close correctly. They had a gap on one side. So finally we quit looking at the level and started looking at the window and doors. We would occasionally go back to the bridge and look back to see how the house looked. Once the doors and windows were right we called it good. 

I used the old concrete blocks from the grain elevator and hog side of the lamb barn. One of the blocks had some writing on it. Annmarie looked it up for me, the little girl who signed her name in the concrete did it 88 years ago!!  I am using the blocks as supports for the pressure treated 4×4 posts we installed to hold the house up. I am saving $5-7/block. Plus, what else was I going to do with them. 
The old concrete blocks were disintegrating. We just smashed them with a hammer to break them up. 
I did put a long sleeve shirt on before crawling around under the house. There was lots of old cat poop but no more flat cats were discovered. We concentrated on the yard side so the dogs could be kept in the yard.  Mouse hates the overhead run. 
We used cedar fencing to create the new skirt.  The only snafu was the front post had leaked so much water down it that the whole corner was rotten. We had to cut sections of the support out and replace about four feet of rotten wood. It took an extra 40 minutes!  
I am hoping to get the backside done tomorrow but I need more hornet spray first. We ran out today and they started to get really pesky by the end of the day. 

Surprise, Baby chicks!

We had company Thursday night and went out to pet the sheep Friday morning. No problems. We were headed out the back door to water the garden and I heard this very loud cacophony over by the old house. It was baby chickens!!  Lots of baby chickens running all over the place and a mother hen clucking at them all. 

Of course the fireproof baby area has not been created yet.  I just had it cleaned out a few weeks ago. So I went to set it up while Annmarie and Chris snagged babies. I had some extra wood pellets stored in the back and we had baby waterers and feeders plus a heat lamp. But I had torn out some burnt wood and cut some of the wire during the fire event.  So I had to cut a temporary panel out of an old piece of plywood, screw it in and then screw in a row of anchors and use scrap wire to repair the hole in the chicken wire. Annmarie snagged 14 baby chickens in just a few minutes. Chris and I wired the heat lamp in place so it cannot fall into the wood pellets or get knocked down.  We did hang water with little pecker valves but I put a small basin of water in the baby area also. The only thing we did not have we baby crumble food. But as these were new babies they can go 24 hours with no food or water. 

They did just fine and once they were safely ensconced in their area they had no trouble finding the heat lamp. 

As we went to bed last night Annmarie told me she heard a peeper peeping. It was dark and I was tired, plus I could not hear anything. I told her, truthfully, I could not hear anything. If you have ever watched tv with me or listened to my car stereo you will understand.  So this afternoon I was out moving sprinklers and heard another peeper. It was a lone baby with its mother.  I managed to snag it and put it with its siblings.  There are now 15 babies, which  hopefully translates into 8 pullets.  
Tomorrow we are going to work on leveling the old house and putting up a new skirt to keep the dogs in the yard. 

Puppies are stupid

Puppies are so dumb!  Just look a cone of shame shows the results of some serious IQ challenges. He was supposed to get neutered on Tuesday morning. Instead when I drop him off I have to ask the tech to point out his left eye to the vet and the two sores on his belly by his scrotum. The vet calls me an hour later to tell me he has a foxtail in one ear, a foxtail under his left eyelid, and two abscess that needed to be probed. I authorized the sedation to remove all fox tails. The vet didn’t want to do the neuter until his abscesses are cleared up. She called back an hour later to say that every location had a foxtail!  So now he wears the cone of shame. He has four different medicines, one antibiotic, one eye ointment and two pain pills. He has to stay on medicine for the next two weeks. If he is healed then we can move forward with the neutering.  

He is so pathetic we now have to put his food on an elevated pedestal so he can eat it. Annmarie had to help him up the stairs the first day. He could not figure out to lift his head to move the cone out of the way.   He is becoming the most expensive dog we have ever owned. It’s a good thing he is the best working dog we have ever owned. 

Fencing take 2

Johnathon told me yesterday he had to leave at 1100 on Friday. So I changed the start time to 0500!  Sounded reasonable on Thursday at 1300. By Thursday night at 2200, I had worked for another 5 hrs and was tired. Annmarie had to wake me up at 0500. My subconscious brain had refused to turn on any alarm. Luckily he was running a little late, we got started at 0530. We finished the side fence post installation. It took on average 20 strikes with the post hole driver to sink a T post. Going across the field it only took 9 whacks. 
I left the tractor at the house. I needed a safer day. We spent the rest of the time repairing the old fence and tightening it up.  Installing wooden stays as the T posts are 16 feet apart. There is one 16 foot gate I need to install and for now I will use our temporary woven electric fence to cover the gate area. We made the gate 32 feet wide between the fields. 
When we were done I paid him, went inside and fell asleep on the living room floor for a half hour nap. I was tired!!  Now I need to put in another 32 wooden stays and string new wire on the waiting posts. I was amazed at the number of voles. One every four feet all over the field. 

Fencing forever day 1

Well as in all things in life there must be some adversity. We started marking T post locations with a string and marking paint.  I brought the tractor so I could mow more weeds. As we started driving T posts it dawned on me we were going to have to fix the old fence also. The only problem with that is the old fence is buried in the weeds. So I left johnathon to mark the next run of new fence and went to mow the old fence line. I kept finding old metal pieces next to the fence. These are found by large clanking and banging as I attempt to mow over them. The weeds are so tall I cannot see the ground. 
I was doing great until I wasn’t. I was almost to the end when the hillside just started to get steeper. When you are holding on with one hand and your seatbelt is the only thing keeping you in the seat you have issues. I tried to back up. No go.  I tried to turn the front wheels and the tractor started to roll over!  I quickly dropped the front bucket and stopped the roll over. I crawled off, uphill side of course and both uphill tires were off the ground a few inches. I got a shovel and a breaker bar and we dug into the hillside about 10 inches down in an attempt to let the uphill side touch the ground, 45 minutes later we were ready to give it a try. I do have a Lifeflight membership, I did put on my seatbelt and did cinch it down.  As I raised the bucket the uphill tires dropped down into the freshly dug area and I was able to drive out. Another great save!!  I just paid off the tractor last month. 
I started mowing out into the tall weeds and dammit if five minutes later I didn’t hit the ditch and had to drop the bucket again.  This time we were able to bring the pickup over and I chained the uphill side to the pickup and backed up in an arc using the pickup as a fulcrum to hold my uphill tire on the ground. It worked slick and I was out of there in five minutes. I did quit mowing in the tall weeds. Too much potential calamity. 

The old fence line did get mowed. There was no way to get in next to it without clearing the debris first. I had to make a couple attempts at creating a metal T post H brace. This one uses two posts driven into the ground at an angle then wired to each upright and wired together at their crossing point. It’s surprisingly sturdy. 

We ran out of used T posts so we quit for the day, it was 1300 anyways. My help left so I went to the scrapyard and snagged 119 used T posts. I usually buy them at least twice a year. There was a big stack this time so I sorted through them and took everything I thought I would be able to drive into the ground. Then I went home and finished mowing. I wanted to be ready for tomorrow. 
I would love to be able to label the pictures but our computer died also.  Annmarie is working on that problem, looks like a new computer will have to happen. 

Fencing in the rain

The hay is all baled and ready to come in the barn, so Mother Nature has decided it’s time for rain. It rained every day for a week!  When I went to go look at the hay there were several large sections that did not get cut. The weeds and hidden ditch and soft ground stopped this harvest notion. I also did not go up and spray weeds this spring. I would have had to drive over the green barley.  This has caused the weeds to grow unchecked. They are out of control. So I did the only thing I could think of and fired up the tractor mower. You know it’s bad when you need four wheel drive just to push through the thistle patch. It’s quite healthy. 

This was really my wake up call to get this area fenced in. It serves two purposes. One I can delineate a spray zone to keep weed free outside the fence and two it lets me turn the animals loose into the area after the hay is cut to forage for a few weeks. It will round the corners off in the fields but overall it will help. Mowing was the first big step. I took a good crack at it after work one night but had to stop due to a lack of fuel in the tractor. Of course this was the day our instant hot water heater took a nosedive and quit working. Mowing in July in eastern Oregon is a very very dusty prospect. I mowed alongside the barley hay field. I have some teenager help coming tomorrow. He had asked if I had any work a couple of weeks ago. I asked him if he was busy on Thursday and Friday, and he replied in ear,y afternoon. So I made our start time 0530!  We can still get in 8 hours on Thursday.