It was bound to happen sooner or later

It was merely a matter of time before the Mistress and I had a little spat. I had a little more time off and decided that I needed to get our upper fields disced up and weed free. I hooked the disc set up directly onto the 2.5 inch ball setup on the back of the mistress. I had been going around in circles for about an hour, when I decided I needed to get the ditch area. The right side of the ditch is elevated and I had the tractor bucket way up in the air with 300# of tractor weights in it. I started up the ditch then felt the tractor tipping to the left side. I knew it was going to go over onto its side and there was nothing I could do. I had enough time to consider bailing off of it but I had the seatbelt on and cinched down. I could have released it and attempted a dismount. I decided against it then started reaching for the dirt as it approached before realizing that I just needed to ride it out. I pulled my hands up and just held onto the steering wheel until the roll bar smacked into the ground. I was not hurt and now had to figure out how to get the tractor upright.

I hoofed it down to the house and grabbed the pickup. I had two chains with the Mistress and I was hoping the pickup could pull the tractor upright. I hooked onto a bar by the front tire and onto the roll bar with separate chains and then pulled them tight and hooked them to the stinger on the pickup. The pickup had no trouble uprighting the Mistress. I kept the tractor chained to the pickup and jockeyed the tractor back and forth using the chains to move forward in an arc and not tip back over until I got out of the ditch. I then spent another six hours knocking down weeds. The mistress and I no worse for the wear.

The baby chickens are going to lay green eggs, we had ten in the coop over the last four days. I need to get about 8 green ones a day to truly justify their expense. Let’s hope it actually happens.

Internet dreams do come true

Last week a five year dream came true, we now have actual high speed internet! On Monday they hooked up our unlimited fiberoptic cable driven internet. Our double modem wireless network is running at 50MBS. Our TV and computer are hardwired directly into the modems and running at 700MBS+. I was able to upload pictures for the blog in under three seconds. If it was possible before it would take 5-10 minutes and it was glorious.

We were able to watch TV and did not have to go around the house and put all our devices into airplane mode. I did not even realize that when you surf the Netflix choices that the movies actually play a small preview, at our house these were always static and never moved. The picture is super clear and not pixelated, this takes TV watching to a whole new level for me.

We got our first green egg from the baby chickens late last week. I fully expect more green eggs to show up now. The eggs will be smaller for about a month before they become normal sized. We need more eggs so they can start paying their way. The last of our hay from the upper hay field was brought down to the house. We now have 24 bales to feed this winter. Next year we will have only alfalfa that we will have bailed. We went on vacation to visit friends on the coast. Sarah watched our house over the weekend. She called one night because the dogs were trying to tear out of their kennels. We told her to let them loose out into the yard to get whatever it was that was upsetting them. They tore out into the yard and eventually came back to the house. The pup slept on the foot of her bed and our older dog slept across the doorway. We didn’t figure she would have many problems with them around.

Field prep area

I was unable to get out and work on the farm on Friday as I ended up covering at work but I had high hopes for Saturday! The bull corral is usable, so in Steve speak this means I am about 90% complete and have moved onto a new project. I still need to put up four rails, attach about 8 upright sandwich boards to get the woven wire locked into place on the wooden boards and I need to put away a few more tools. I also need to move all the lumber out of weather and into the barn. That moving job is going to be a bigger deal. I may end up moving most of the lumber to the old chicken coop, so functionally done.

I need to get the two upper fields ready for alfalfa which means knocking down weeds again. I have the new disc set I just needed tot get it working. I figured this would be an easy endeavor on a Saturday morning. It took me almost two hours to get the discs working correctly. There is no instruction manual and the seller was in and out in under 10 minutes after he delivered them. There is a handle missing that controls a release arm to let tension off of the locking mechanism to get the back set of discs to swing out. I tried pushing on the discs. I tried backing up and jerking them forward to get them loose. I had to use an old dog leash to hold the arm locking mechanism open. I figured that part out early. After hooking onto the back set of discs with a chain and pulling and jerking from various angles I gave it some more attention and started to figure out every single little mechanism and discovered the locking arm was missing its handle but I could turn the pipe manually. Once I had that disengaged I got the arm to pop loose with WD40 and more tractor manipulation. Then I had to drag it around in circles to figure out how to adjust it and where it needed to be to get me maximum effect without bogging down the tractor. I also had to gas up the tractor and blow out the radiator so dirt and weeds didn’t cause me to overheat her.

So two hours later I was able to start discing the upper prime field. This is very monotonous. Around and around and around you go. It is a must that you wear your seatbelt as tight as you can get it across your thighs. The tractor is constantly jumping around due to ruts and bumps and dirt clots and it starts to wear on your back and shoulders. After 8 hours with a seatbelt my back was starting to holler at me for doing it so long.

I refused to come in for lunch and just kept after it. There are deer absolutely every where in the upper fields and harvested wheat field. There must be at least 50 living on the property now. The amazing part is even with no rain and 100+ degree temperatures I was able to find dark brown moist soil in several areas of the field. This is very good news for our dryland alfalfa experiment we are doing next year.

My chickens hate the heat and are only laying 3-4 eggs a day now. The babies have not started to lay yet with any consistency.

My practice area below, I am going to toss out some dryland grass seed and hope it takes in the spring. The big win was I managed to even out the small area. It had a bunch of different holes and has been needing some attention.

We have killed one badger so far and no coyotes.

More of the same

Sunday I was back at the field. This time it only took 30 minutes to get the tractor ready and get up to the field. We are getting ready to love us some high speed fiberoptic transmitted internet! Here you see the fiberoptic cable coiled up and ready to go to our house. Annmarie tells me that in one week we will have it up and running in our house! It could have been sooner but we opted to have them bury the cable in our yard and install two routers inside our house with direct hard wire to the fiberoptic line. It will be amazing. We have even heard rumors that some of our neighbors are inquiring about having it added to their house now. I spent another 8 hours on the tractor again. It would have been a straight shot but a couple of hours into it Zeke showed up to the upper field. He loves eating voles but its not safe for the dogs to be up there currently. So I walked him back to the house and discovered that he had pushed on the panel going into the ram pasture. The bungee had broke and he figured it out causing an opening to near the top. I closed it and tied it shut. But no Mouse or Gizmo anywhere in the yard. I figured they had used the same hole but when I walked up to the front fence I discovered that Annmarie had not latched the gate into the corral and Mouse had pushed on the gate and opened it up. The other two dogs used that opportunity to sneak down to Grandma’s house and ate cat food. I pulled weeds on the front hillside and hollered for the dogs occasionally. Mouse came back first and Gizmo showed up about ten minutes later. Once everyone was back in the yard I went back out and started to go around in circles. I managed to get one field completed and started in the next one. There was an old hay elevator parked up there that I grabbed with the tractor and pulled back to the house. The two flat tires were no match for my mistress! The elevator is an old pto belt driven thing probably from the 1950’s. I need Annmarie to tell me scrap or front yard decoration. There is still some 4 inch mainline irrigation pipe buried alongside the fence in the upper 7 acre field. It will have to be dug out by hand. It is resting nicely where it is for now.

We have been feeding the sheep for about 2 weeks now and they have all put on weight. The pasture we were keeping them on had no nutrition. We have not let them out on the back hillside because of the coyotes. Losing three of them has made us cautious of just letting them roam free. If we do that then we still have to bring them in every night. So for now we are having to feed hay. This is cutting into our winter feed stockpile and I am going to have to buy another four tons of hay to get us through the winter.

Plumbing juvenile

Annmarie told me on Friday that there was a water leak down at her mother’s house around the frost free fire hydrant spigot. I despise plumbing and it doesn’t like me. I talked to Donna and gave her the news that I was busy all weekend until Sunday. I knew I was going to have to dig out the leak as almost no plumber does that these days. If they do do it, its very expensive.

There was some discussion about having Thing 1 or 2 dig or one of the nephews. Digging is one of those things that you just have to keep after and you have to be careful when you get close as to not puncture the pipe and make things worse so the amateurs were off the table. I headed out Sunday and found three shovels, a normal one, smaller head one and a short handled one. I spent 30 minutes sharpening each one with a file and running a wire brush over the spade part to smooth it out and get rid of any rust. A sharp edge and smooth blade make for a much easier digging experience especially in the mud.

I ended up digging a channel away from the standpipe as the ground sloped away and I was hoping to get the water to drain away from my work area. This also allowed me to dig a smaller hole as I could back up into the channel and bend over to work on the pipe. As much as it pains me to admit, I am getting pretty good at digging holes for plumbing repair. I know how much to expose and I make it big enough to work in. A hole that is too small is so painful to work in and its messy.

I decided to only wear a billed baseball cap instead of one of my wide brimmed hats. About an hour into the job I realized I was wearing my new leather boots and needed to crawl down into the wet muddy hole. I went back to the house to put on my rubber boots when I realized I had no rubber boots. Annmarie tried to talk me into buying a pair when I got the new leather boots but I didn’t want to spend that much money. Luckily, I had found my brand new chest high waders in the old house when we cleaned it out. I figured I would only be outside for a couple of hours. It took me 4.5 hours to dig the hole and discover that the 90 degree elbow had a small crack in the bottom, most likely from turning the faucet off and on. Wearing chest high water proof waders in 100+ degree weather is not ideal by a long shot. My entire body was soaking wet. My clothes looked like I was standing in chest deep water.

Sarah loaded all of the yard sale items into the pickup and I went over to help her unload them. I did tell her that if she got them in unassisted she could get them out alone. She knew I wanted a cabinet out in her shed and it is a two person transfer. So I was on the hook to help her unload so I could get the cabinet for the old house! I was basically blackmailed by my own child.

The plan was for me to pickup new parts on Monday after work and then come home and fix it. Now it should be noted that after multiple attempts and some reading I have not improved my plumbing skills. I have basically not improved at all. I can dig a great hole but the actual plumbing part is like catching a greased pig. The likely hood of catching it on the first try is very slim but if you keep applying yourself eventually you can do it. That pretty much sums up my philosophy when it comes to plumbing. I only do simple repairs and they never go right. I tried to get the needed parts at the first hardware store but they did not have the 90 degree elbow in 1 1/4 size. I was unsure if I needed a 1 or 3/4 inch nipple or reducer, so I bought the 1 inch because I thought I had the 3/4 at home. At the second hardware store I found the needed 90 degree angle. My first mistake was only buying one! I went home put on the weight loss waders and glued the pieces onto the pipe. The pipe had some water still running out so I had to work quick but it was hot and the glue was drying fast. I then attached the standpipe and the frost free standpipe and tied the pipe up at the top so the weight was off the new joint. I waited two hours and had the water turned back on. Nope, I had several micro leaks around the glued joints and the threaded part of the frost free standpipe. We left the water on so I could shower! I was off on Tuesday and would get it done.

So Tuesday morning the water got turned off and I went down and sawed the joint off. I opened faucets up at our house and yard in an attempt to get all the water to drain out of the system. Annmarie was going to town so I asked her to buy 2 sets of parts. The actual stand pipe size was 1 inch. I let it drain for 3 hours. This time I glued the reducer into one side of the 90 degree angle and then glued the 90 degree angle onto the pipe. There was a single drop of water present that I dried first. I left this to dry for 2 hours. Then I put teflon tape on a nipple then inserted it into the frost free hydrant. I used teflon tape on the other side and screwed it into the reducer on the 90 degree and tied it up at the top to support the weight. Again the water was turned on and I still had a leak! The hydrant side had a slow drip from the nipple. The water was turned off and I took it all apart and used four wraps of teflon this time. I usually only use two wraps as too much is not a good thing. I had the water turned back on and the leak is even slower but still present. There is a point in a job where simple perseverance is the answer. I had just enough time to get to the hardware store and buy some yellow colored thread compound. I had noticed some corrosion on the pipe threads and I suspect that is why the teflon tape was not working. I painted the stuff on and used two layers of teflon tape, installed it again and had the water turned back on. It is a miracle, there was no leak! I had won. The only problem is the standpipe has about a five degree tilt to the right. This is within acceptable tolerance when it comes to a Steve plumbing job.

I have been going up to the upper field and checking for coyotes per Professional instructions. I have seen nothing. On Monday night as I am heading home I spotted a coyote on the back hillside with a small dead animal in its mouth. It was 125 yards away and all I had was a Ruger 10/22. I took a single pot shot that caused it to drop its meal and run away.

On Tuesday the Professional came out to check his work. I caught up with him and he asked me to only go out every three days. He did tell me that they are trying to trap a cougar for one of my neighbors. The cougar is less than a mile away and has been spotted out during the day around homes. We had been wondering why the sheep have been bunching up in the evenings and trying to get inside the barn. They do not want to be away from the buildings. So we will keep a look out. Nothing has woken us up at night and we sleep with the windows open all year around.

Our internet is coming! They got the 1/4 inch steel wire hung on the power poles all the way to our house today. We should have true high speed internet by next week. One of the installers told Annmarie that the unfettered high speed, what we got, is currently running at 700MBS!! We cannot even get 1.5 MBS now and our current upload speed is only 125KBS. We have just given up on the internet. We cannot stream any TV as our show hung up every 30-60 seconds lasts night and today I could not use the computer as it cannot update itself as the speed is too slow. We are just biding our time and looking forward to any sort of improvement but it looks like we are going to be getting an amazing upgrade! I will be able to do Twitter and You Tube from our house.

Said I was cleaning old house

I told Annmarie I was going to clean the old house on Friday. This usually entails picking up all of my tools that are scattered on all horizontal surfaces and digging out the floor so you can actually see it. I like to put tools in a bucket for each job then I put the bucket in the old house. But I still had tools in boxes from the tile job this winter. I could not find a cordless drill, it was time. I was down to only one crescent wrench and it was a humongous one. My truest indicator of time to clean is when I run out of tape measures, crescent wrenches or a cordless tool I need is missing.

I decided that it was time to make forward momentum on the old house. I would like to set up the wood working area but I need the middle two rooms cleaned out so I can finish wiring the house. I need three 220V outlets, one for planer, one for joiner and one for a table saw. I will use my current 110V table saw for a while but eventually I would like to have a 220V. They don’t draw near as many amps as a 110V. I had some help lined up Thing 2 was coming as his brother was busy. Bubba is done for the summer, early retirement. So we started tearing into the back room of the old house. This is the room directly over the root cellar and was most likely the main living area. It has a hole for a chimney directly in the middle of the room, no cold spots in that room. We needed to empty it out first and it still had boxes from when we moved here 10 years ago. If we haven’t used it in that time we can probably get rid of it, was my mantra as we started emptying boxes. We laid out a large tarp on the lawn and started unwrapping all the stuff packed in the boxes. We ended up keeping two large moving boxes and one medium one. They had dishes and display items for our curio cabinets. We found the glass shelves for our large curio cabinet that has been living in the upstairs unfinished bathroom. A great score, now I just need to fix the one leg that broke off in the move. We found the naked ladies pictures! Another great find, we bought four prints of the four seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall at an auction house when we were first married. They are a little scantily clad but wonderful pictures and usually reside in our guest bedroom but we have not been able to find them. I have dug through boxes twice over the years looking for them and never succeeded. I will be mounting them on the wall over the bed in the spare room this week.

We scored a lost grinder for the kitchen aid. We had replaced this already but will hold onto the spare as we may need it when grinding up our own meat. We scored a nice wedding picture I didn’t know we had. We lost most of our pictures to a water leak in one of our houses so it was a nice score. I found a couple of gifts to be for some difficult gift recipients.

Annmarie talked me into getting rid of the old 36″ screen door that has lived out there for eternity. I also found another 36″ white screen door that is brand new in the original box but cut open. We moved it from Moscow with us. We don’t have a single door it will work on, it went out to the tarp.

I had Thing 1 start in on the bathroom. It is the picture below. The story is that grandma lived out in this house after the main house was built. Grandpa lived upstairs in the main house. As she got older a bathroom and kitchen were added to the old house so she didn’t have to go outside and use the outhouse. It is piled full of old parts and boxes and boxes of old nails, at least 100-200# worth.

The old kitchen, above, is full of tires and I know there is at least one milk separator in there somewhere. The old sewing machine that I took apart fifteen years ago without marking anything is out there in a box also. I am going to get to that eventually.

As Thing 1 restocked all the wood I noticed the back of one of the door jambs was stamped with “Pilot Rock Lumber, Pilot Rock Oregon” stamp. This board is around 120 years old. It is amazing what you can find if you pay attention. I have been saving all the old door jambs so I can reuse the wood. It is amazingly straight grained and wonderful. I will just have to get the paint off of it first.

Our first day after 8 hours didn’t seem to net us much progress. I used some old metal hanging shelves left over from Sarah’s closet reminded 10 years ago to mount a shelf for the free shop lights I managed to get about five years ago. We also ripped down all the cloth wallpaper on two walls. I figured if we were doing it we might as well go all in and get it ready.

My big take away was that I am going to have to buy a bigger circuit breaker box to fit in the new shop lights and to do the 220V breakers. So that will be my next purchase when I am at Home Depot. I will even recess this next one into the wall. I am not sure why I did not do that other than this was easier.

We sold 35 sheep on Monday! They will come get the other 15 sheep in a few weeks. This has been a true blessing as my add on Craigslist was not going any where. I was getting ready to advertise in multiple areas. We put all the small 15 sheep in the orchard and have been watering the grass and tossing them a bale of alfalfa in an attempt to fatten them up. We are saving that money and our cow money to pay for the alfalfa seed that will be planted this fall.

The Professional came out and we have a plan in place. I have been walking the property every evening and have discovered that we have several things in plenty, pheasants, doves, pigeons and deer, lots of deer. There are around 50 deer making the place home and I saw at least 4 sets of twins and at least another 10 fawns and all of them still spotted. I have yet to draw a single doe tag in the last 10 years. I am hoping they don’t decimate our alfalfa crop.

Tying it all together

Annmarie was gone for the weekend, this allows me to basically work until I drop. I am not sure its the best plan but I am fairly consistent in its application. She leaves and I spend all day outside just tearing stuff up and cooking things that are not good for me. Now this time I was better about that as last time I made myself sick.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 came out first thing in the morning to help me on Saturday. My ultimate goal was to get the old house torn up and put together today. Since we only got about 80% of one room yesterday It was going to take some concerted effort. I had Thing 1 tear into the old bathroom and Thing 2 and I moved the planer and edger away from the walls so we could tear down the wallpaper and some door trim. The original living room now has the fence and compound radial arm saw.

We tore into the old kitchen next. I handed stuff out. Its easier to just empty the room and filter out what goes back inside. I left the two milk separators and the old washing machine in there. We put the coolers and snow tires in it also. We have three sets of snow tires so we need to check sizes before buying any new ones. I got rid of the handmade fruit dryer. It had a live mouse in it and was made out of plywood and window screens with a fan in the bottom. The mouse got away when it was being carried out to the burn pile. The old bathroom really was a bathroom! We moved the old propane stove from our house over the hole so nothing could get inside. We may use the propane stove to heat this building so we kept it.

The center room had two layers of linoleum on the floor, and the boys tore it out. the floor was brand new underneath. The wood has never been walked on or seen daylight. It is in amazing condition.
There were two doors leaning up against the wall so I used one to cover the opening to the kitchen. Its about two inches too narrow and six inches too short but it covers most of the opening and keeps the dogs out. I found some old mouse poison so I set that out on the shelves of the kitchen. We have cats but obviously they need some help.

The finished main living room no has the saw. The shelves on the right hand side are home to the shop lights until I can get them installed.

This old parts cabinet got moved and cleaned out with 409. I converted it into a place to hold all the screws and nails. I need to see if I can add in some areas for bolts and nuts also. My drawer for that is getting full and its hard to find the part you want. The not well fitting door needed new hinges and I found a coffee can with some used hinges I had picked up at a yard sale a few years back. I knew I would use them at some point. There is a hole on the outside of the house that was an entrance to the rafters. The door fell off and it has been open to the weather since we got back. I need to get a ladder and install a new door in the next couple of weeks. I picked up an old wooden cabinet that is currently stored at Sarah’s that I would like to install on that wall but I need to stop any water from coming inside first.

I had Thing 2 go through all my scrap wood. Any that were shorter than 3′ got tossed out onto the burn pile. I just had to make a decision to let it go. When I get all the storage stuff up into the old chicken coop then I can store more wood in the old house!

I found some cool old knickknacks. I scored three old melamine drawer pulls. They look brand new. I was hoping to find 20 of them but no go. I found a cool old lock and no key and a couple of old cast plates.

As I continued to fill up the old kitchen with antiques that I have no idea what to do with and things that I may need in a couple of years it occurred to me that I should start looking at the old chicken coop. It has a concrete floor and just needs glass to keep the critters and weather out. Once I had the windows in then I could move all this stuff that just needs stored up to that building. I have a bunch of extra windows so now I just need to see about how to make them fit. If I had that storage area then I could really utilize the entire space for my woodshop. I do need to install a door between this tool room and the other two rooms to minimize the dust in the tool room. I plan on ripping out about 50% of the wall between the two main rooms to allow for more working space. I also need to install a new back door. The current one has fallen apart, lost its glass and is held closed with bailing wire. I would like a 32″ door with large window but I will rip out the door casing first to measure the actual door opening. I may be able to get a 34 or 36″ door into the old hole. I decided that it was time to get rid of some of the cast iron I was hoarding. I ended up keeping one Wagner pan and two cast iron teapots. Now I just need to get a small sand blaster to clean them up.

When they were loading up the sheep on Monday a few got away and one of our solar lights by the front gate was a casualty. I managed to find one brand new one stashed on top of a freezer and installed it on the fence.

I stopped to go make lunch and had Thing 1 & 2 keep working on tearing out flooring and wallpaper. I made my famous chicken salad. It is very good. I made 5.5 sandwiches. I was only going to eat 1.5. I brought sandwiches, gatorade and grapes outside as everyone was covered in dust. When I asked how the sandwiches were Thing 2 stated “its okay” then about 30 seconds later he said they were “good” but he only ate one sandwich. Thing 1 ate three sandwiches after asking his brother if he was going to have a second sandwich. So he obviously didn’t care for the chicken salad. Maybe it had too many vegetables in it, I added onion, celery and jalapeƱo.

One of the things I noticed about working with the brothers is that when they are together I have to be more diligent about keeping them on the straight and narrow. When they are not kept busy they are easily distracted. I just kept barking orders occasionally it seemed to work.

I am trying to talk Sarah into having a yard sale at her house during Pilot Rock community days to offload all the stuff on the tarp. We have more up in the new bathroom area that can go also. I think she is going to do it! I found this old school desk. I like it better than the one we picked up a couple of years ago but I had forgotten about this one.

All of this area will be alfalfa by this time next year we will have gotten our first crop off it. Looking forward to only moving 50# bales.