Power play.

The light works!

Today was a good day!  I really feel like I got over a large hurdle in the last few days working on the farm.  Getting power to the machine shop was a big project and took me almost seven days of work to get it all done.  I crawled under the bridge and installed conduit and two junction boxes.  I had Sarah help me by guiding the wire into one box while I pulled to the other box.  Brian came out this morning to mow the lawn and chew the fat.  We had this discussion about home improvement projects.  He was telling me about burning up a drill on his last project.  I broke one of my battery Makita drills trying to get holes through the pressure treated boards under the bridge.  There is a reason I have a spare drill and impact hammer.  
Our first triplets of the year. 

While I was attempting to finish the power our sheep started to have more babies.  I was pointing the new babies out to Brian when he spotted triplets on the hillside.  I only saw two and told him twins.  Annmarie went out into the field and he was correct.  We have live triplets and they are all doing well and momma is nursing and paying attention to all three.  The little white and brown one is a girl so we will be keeping her.  This ram is throwing nice healthy babies and the colors are amazing.  Those triplets are bigger than some of our twins last year.

I got all the wiring done and then flipped the breaker.  I walked out to the machine shop and turned on the light, it works!!  I was amazed.  The next big test was to measure the voltage at the outlet to see how much drop there was with all the distance.  I could not get a reading, I remembered to reset the GFI outlet and still could not get a reading, but the light works!  So I trudged back to the house blaming the outlet, it was a used outlet that I had written a note to myself on the box, “may work”.  Half way to the house it occurred to me that I should look at my voltmeter and see if it was setup right, the selector switch was right but I had used the meter to check continuity last so I had to unplug one of the probes and put it in a different hole on the voltmeter, a whopping 118.9 V.  Pretty dang close to 120, that I am betting it is good enough.  Most electrical items will work on a small range of voltage as it is not consistent around the country.  We like to think it is but it isn’t.  The next big test will be tonight when it gets dark, will our old walkway lights work?  They have been out of commission for five years and I did not change out the lightbulbs.

I had to wear my outside slippers all day today as the top of my right foot is still very swollen and sore where I connected to the ram’s ribs with the top of my booted foot.  My foot still hurts a lot, but he is totally unfazed.  Today he did not bum rush either one of us.  Maybe he is learning, or else we are.  

Another single

Probable right broken foot. Courtesy of the ram

The light really works in the dark!

We came back from the movie and I had left the machine shop light on so we could see if it is enough light to get hay and feed.  It is plenty of light for that simple task!  I wouldn’t do brain surgery but for getting hay it is perfect.
Both of our walkway lights work also!  It was amazing to come home in the dark and not have to use our cell phones to get down the concrete stairs to our bridge.  After five years of rest they still have some lumens left.  The next big thing is to get the three guy wire anchors bolted into the machine shop roof so we can get the tower installed.  Once that is done, its high speed internet time!!

Annmarie and Sarah moved the momma and babies into the baby area.  We want to keep them separate until they are tagged and banded.  Annmarie made a tracking program for our iPhones so we can instantly update it with any babies and their mothers.  It is very handy, much better than the paper notes I used to do.  

Almost there!

I was raking leaves again today. 

I am almost there, I finished the conduit in the ditch today.  I was of course one piece short and had to run to town.  I bought six sticks.  I was not making another trip and the more I thought about the power under the bridge I realized that there might not be any conduit in place.  When I tore out the old bridge I took out the conduit and we have had nonfunctioning walkway decorator lights for the last five years.  I got the ditch all filled in and smoothed out, the new wiring all in place to the edge of the driveway.  I headed back to the bridge and crawled under it and discovered no conduit.  I am going to have to install two electrical boxes and a few pieces of conduit.  I was short one box so requested it from the child who was going to town with Annmarie.

Earlier in the day Annmarie spotted another baby lamb.  Our second one, it is all black with a white spot on its forehead.  We are incredibly happy with the coloring and health of both babies.  No twins yet but hopefully that will pick up.  Annmarie and I went out into the ram pasture and Oreo came running over for scratches.  Annmarie obliged him and then turned to go see the baby.  He snuck up behind her and head butted her.  She was not amused.  If this has never happened to you before it is very funny if you are not the one getting head butted.  If you are it is very painful and can put you on the ground.  So she gave him the boot, he tried a few times but neither of them could connect.  He finally gave up and walked over to me for scratches.  I obliged and then as Annmarie got closer to the baby I quit paying attention to him and was trying to see over all the other sheep when I got this huge slamming head into the middle of my left thigh.  I had an instant charlie horse hence the reason they teach this move in self defense courses.  I was quicker and the ram was closer, so my right foot connected with his ribs.  He hardly noticed but the top of my right foot started to ache instantly.  We managed to get out of the pasture without any more instances.  For those of you that don’t know this behavior is bad.  It puts any human who goes around the ram at risk.  Its because he is so tame that makes him a risk.  We like the fact that we can pet and handle him, he just needs to learn that he cannot head butt us for attention.  I talked about sanding down an old broken shovel handle to put out in the barn just in case.  At one point while looking for tools for the bridge job I found an old handle about 18 inches long with a flat cut on one end.  I sanded it down on the sander and set it down in the shed.  I thought I was overreacting and it would all work out in the end.

I cleaned up some of my tools, then mounted an old cast iron bell from Grandma and Grandpa’s front porch onto the porch of our old house.  I decided I was done for the day and would put the sheep to bed in the barn.  All the sheep but the two mommas and babies went into the barn.  I took the dogs out but Mouse got excited to see the babies so he had to stay on the hillside.  I went down and ended up carrying the new little boy to the barn.  I locked the barn door and started to feed the sheep.  I was being cautious and watching the ram but he was not trying to head butt me.  I was about 60% done distributing the hay when all of a sudden I was rammed in my right thigh!!  I turned the pitchfork around and smacked the ram up alongside the head.  Now both thighs were burning!  He didn’t try anything else, I went to the old house and grabbed that sanded handle and tossed it next to the barn so it can go inside the barn.  The handle is so short that the ram can only get smacked if he is purposefully trying to get to you.  He needs some negative reinforcement.  I like him and would like to keep him for at least three years but we cannot have him sneaking up on us and head butting us randomly.  It’s not safe, wait until there is mud on the ground or ice and he head butts you, it will not be a pretty picture.
The top of my right foot is killing me, I may have to not wear my boots tomorrow.  

Power inching closer

Helpers, they were holding the ladder.

I drove to town first thing to buy those mounting screws for the light.  I went right to the section of the store where they sell the lights and no mounting screws.  I asked for help, no mounting screws.  He took me over to the screw and bolt section of the store.  Nothing fit, he asked two more staff members, no mounting screws.  They gave me two small self taping screws so I could attach the light to the mounting base.  As soon as I got back home I mounted the light.  I then wired the light switch and installed the waterproof switch cover.  It manipulates a normal light switch with an external lever while making it waterproof.  Its pretty cool.  I then decided to start gluing conduit together.  I needed a wire tape (fish tape) to pull the wire through the conduit.  I had to go up into our attic to find it.  This meant I had to move the dresser we are giving away from the hallway first.  Finally, wire tape in hand I head out to the shop to get the conduit completed.  I had figured the ditch was only 125 feet long. This was a rough guesstimate.  I was off by almost 35 feet.  Since my wire tape is only 125 feet I only glued 110 feet of conduit together.  I ran the fish tape from the end by the machine shop then ran out the wire alongside the ditch to get an accurate measurement, added some more and cut the wire.  I then drug all the wire back behind the starting point of the conduit and laid it out so it would not kink.  I taped the fish tape onto a center wire.  The tape makes for a friction point in the conduit but I had already done 10 feet when I realized I should have used some lubricant.  I had wire pulling gel leftover so I squeezed some of it into the far end of the conduit.  I had a hard time pulling the wire and holding onto the conduit.  I needed all my strength to pull the wire.  I ended up sitting on the ground with the conduit lip up against the bottom of my right boot with my left boot pushing it from the top to hold it in place.  This only allowed me to pull about one foot of wire before having to regroup and try again.  It took almost 45 minutes just to pull the wire through that conduit.  It was very painful and I need to remember the mantra “lube first”.  When I pulled the wire to the switch I did not use any tape, I didn’t think it was any easier.  I had to climb up on the wall and spread my legs to either side of the electrical box and pull as hard as I could.  Once I had the wire in the box, I wired the outlet, the light and a spare set of wires for our internet providers!  I left them half the box so there was room to work. 

2/3 of conduit laid and covered

Once I had 2/3 of the conduit done I laid it down into the ditch and backfilled it.  Unfortunately, I had to toss the first few inches of dirt into the ditch by hand.  Large rocks can wear a hole into the conduit so I sorted through the dirt to put dirt only next to the conduit.  I used the tractor to fill in the ditch, drove over it several times with the tractor and then drug all the excess dirt away with the box blade.  I figure once it settles I will use gravel to fill in any low part of the ditch.
Tomorrow I want to finish laying the conduit and getting it wired into the system.  The real problem is that when I tore up the bridge five years ago I never put the wiring back.  We have had light sensing lamp posts next to our walkway for five years as mere decoration.  I think I will have to wire some more stuff up under the bridge.  I need to go check and make sure the power is off. 

Power, light switch and outlet done ready for internet.

The cows needed fed so I went to the barn and got some of last years hay.  It looks like straw, but it really is hay. I managed to get five bales up onto my little tractor bucket.  I called the college last week and left a message with the diesel tech instructor about letting them work on our old tractor to get it up and going.  I have not heard back so I will call again next week.  I need the old Ford 9N up and going, it can move the 800# bales that my little tractor cannot.

I am frantically trying to get everything done before winter gets here.  

Cow feeding time

First baby!

First baby from our new ram, Oreo. 

Winter is coming!  This happens every year and it is always a race to get ready.  There are always ten projects that need to be done before the ground freezes.  This year is no exception and I am having a hard time squeezing everything in.  I am not going to get every project done.  Our newest big project is getting new internet.  The internet blows, we cannot get satellite anything due to our Southern exposure being blocked by a 100+ year old tree and a 100+ year old barn.  What were they thinking? Did they not know we would need satellite access?  I am courteous enough to plan for the next 50 years.  Because of our super slow internet, we have to put every device in airplane mode to stream any TV and even then some nights the download pauses are treated as commercials from the olden days.  We have had W-tech link out to our house twice.  We live in a low spot between two hills and cannot pick up a signal from the radio transmitters two miles away in Pilot Rock.  The second time they came out they just used a boom truck and started raising it all over the farm to find a signal.  If we go 20 feet into the air over the old machine shop on the back tall corner peak we can pick up a signal from the Pendleton Airport!  Perfect, lets do it!  There is one slight complication, the receiver needs power and it needs to be mounted 20 feet in the air above the peak of the machine shop.  

Somewhere there is a baby out there!

So now I am frantically trying to get power over to the machine shop asap so we can have internet and have our driveway back.  I have had to drag the trash can down past the shop for the last two weeks so the garbage truck can just turn around like they used to do.  They always just circle around behind the machine shop to get out, it makes it very easy for large rigs and trailers.  A semi truck can do it also.  I needed more supplies so I went to Zimmerman’s hardware on Thursday to finish buying everything.  I had been contemplating going to 10 gage wire due to the distance and finally just did it, ouch $215 for a 250 foot roll.  I also decided that since I was putting all this work in we might as well get a light for the hay area so we can see when we are getting hay for the cows.  All the asundry hardware for that was another $100.  Plus, I threw in another five sticks of conduit.  It was more than I thought I needed but some things are cheaper compared to another trip to town.

I spent the day attaching a light switch box and an outlet box to the wall, everything has to be in a waterproof setting.  I got the overhead light wire pulled and then wired the light in and then attempted to screw the light into the round base with the screws provided.  They were very short screws and did not work!  I climbed down the ladder and resorted to reading the directions for installing the light.  I was desperate and thought the instructions might have a simple fast fix.  Nope, what crazy half baked manufacturer boxes a light with no installation screws!!  Their instructions “mounting screws sold separately”  What is this?  Two stupid screws was all I needed and the job would be done.  I had to leave the light hanging by its wires in the hope that tomorrow I could go to the hardware store, where I purchased the light and find the “sold separately” installation screws.
I didn’t get any conduit laid down in the ditch because it rained most of the day and was miserable.  Luckily, I did all my work in the machine shop out of the rain. 

What manufacturer does this?

two boxes in, light switch and outlet

Counting cows

I was dog tired last night, I was so tired I went to bed early after letting Mouse outside.  I was hardly able to keep my eyes open as I trudged up the stairs to our nice firm bed.  I got undressed and promptly flopped into bed and fell asleep.  It has been a long week at work and I have been burning the candle at both ends.  Next thing I know I kinda hear the phone ring, its late and no one calls us unless you are a solicitor or survey company.  We ignore both those types of calls and they don’t usually call this late.  I try and ignore it and fall back asleep.  I hear Annmarie talking on the phone as I attempt to burrow down under the covers.  Next thing I know Annmarie is coming into the bedroom and turning on the lights at 2300!  Its late and she tells me that the neighbors up the road just called because our cows are out in the road.  This sucks as it means I must get out of bed, get dressed and go out into the cold!  We get dressed and Mouse is bouncing all over the hallway as he knows something is up.  We put on his reflective vest and his clip on light before heading out.  I holler for Zeke multiple times and get no response.  So I go outside and stand on the bridge and holler for Zeke, no answer.
I am hardly awake, much less functioning so Annmarie tells me to take the pickup down to the other end of the farm and block off the road so we can push the cows back towards the house.  She and Mouse were going to walk up the bottom pasture and we would meet at the cows, wherever they were. This plan would have worked better if she was walking with Zeke.  In the middle of the night, using the dog by blinky light location only is tricky at best but near impossible with a puppy.  I drove around and found all the cows out on the road eyeing the fence keeping them out of the neighbors alfalfa field.  I shooed them out of the road then herded them toward the lower pasture with the pickup by driving through the stubble of the wheat field.  I finally spotted Annmarie and Mouse coming up the bottom.  By the time Annmarie made it to me she was covered in dust, her eyeglasses were crooked and her face vaguely resembled pigpen’s appearance.  She told me that Mouse spooked the horses in the barn lot and Mika ran over her pushing her down into the loose dirt.  We pushed the cows into the upper pasture.  Our leasee has just disced the entire filed and it is very loose dirt.  We ended up tossing Mouse into the cab and driving down the field.  The cows disappeared into the dark but they sounded like they were ahead of us.  They got out by pushing on the gate.  I had it chained shut but the chain was held onto the wooden post by two fencing staples.  I need the chain to go all the way around the post and chain into itself so the bull cannot push it apart.  We drove down to the barn and tossed out a couple of bales of hay.  The entire ride back, after discovering the gate, was consumed with wondering where the three boy sheep were at.
We could hear the cows coming so thought they were still in the bottom pasture, nope they had gotten back out into the wheat field.  So I had to open the gate for them while Annmarie tossed out some hay in the barn lot.  Nope, the cows went down to the lower pasture and waited for me to open the gate.  I will have to feed them later.  It was finally time to go to bed. I will not be counting sheep in my dream.  They are on their own.  Hopefully, we can spread the word and someone will spot them.  As I went out onto the breeze porch to kennel the puppy, there was Zeke!  He had crawled into his kennel and gone to sleep, a wise old dog move.  

The sky is our new frontier

It was RoundUp week and I managed to carve out a Wednesday to get our trench dug for the new power outlet in the machine shop.  We need a better internet provider. Our phone line internet provider is too slow. When we stream tv we have to put every device but Roku in airplane mode. It is a pain and we deserve better. So after two separate consultations if we can get an antenna 20 feet in the air on top of the 25 foot tall machine shop we can get an internet signal from the Pendleton airport. The only real big hangup here is the antenna needs electrical power of which there is none in the old machine shop.  

So on Wednesday after our telephone line was marked I rented a trenching machine for half a day. I figured it would only take an hour or two. I was off by a couple of hours. It took almost 3.5 hours to get across the driveway. The machine beat me up and is almost too big for me to wrench around.  I got the trench dug and the machine all cleaned off and back to the rental business in under four hours. 

We decided to spend the afternoon in Pendleton shopping. We found another great hand woven woolen rug. We looked at 20 different rugs but settled on this color and design. This rug will actually go on the floor in our bedroom. We brought it home and compared it to our wall rug. They are identical!  Our new rug is just bigger. Next year we will get a different pattern and a different color. 

I spent four hours on Friday hand digging under the concrete slab and digging out in the machine shop I was unable to get all the electrical parts as it was RoundUp. If you live here you understand that every thing stops for a week. So I will be shopping for the last few pieces, and waterproof outlet. Soon the skies will solve our internet woes!  

Musings from the farm.

It is September now, I would like to say that it is still summer but the leaves are already turning. Fall is just around the corner. Annmarie has started walking in the mornings with the dogs. It’s not hard to see why we like it here. It is very beautiful. 

Mouse still has not caught onto the whole jumping thing. He watches Zeke do everything but he hasn’t figured out how to jump. So when they get to the cattle guard Zeke just leaps over but Mouse has decided to take his instructions from Annmarie. He walks over the cattle guard just like her!!  I have never seen a dog do that before. 

The weather was perfect for the quail this year, they were able to hatch two separate batches of babies. The current batch is pretty young but our quail population is on the rise. 

This is a picture of the farm from the opposite hill. The two huge trees hide the house pretty well. 

We ended up with fruit from our newly planted fruit trees last year. I truly did not believe that it would amount to anything so we ignored the trees. We went out yesterday and picked a two gallon container of Asian pears. They are plum size as I did not thin the fruit. They are the best Asian pears I have ever eaten!!  They are so sweet!!  Tree ripened fruit is the best. I will definitely be thinning the fruit next year.