I have been feeling a little better this week. I have been working full time without needing to go to bed at 2000 every night. I had decided that I needed to get out and do some more work but not overdo it. Mr Professional had come out and fixed the tractor and fed the large bales to the cows. He had some extra time so he filled the driveway potholes and drug the driveway.
On Friday I got our old heavy duty bird feeder holders up and working again and took them down to the Mother-in-law’s house to set them up on her back deck. She wants the bird feeders to hang over the air so the cats cannot have easy access to the birds. Since it is about 12 feet up in the air, the cats are going to need to be careful before leaping off the deck at prey. She will need to order some new feeders that are heavier so they don’t get thrown off the hangars by the wind.
I started dragging the driveway with the box blade to get it smoothed out. It has taken me many years to figure out how to rehab the driveway so we don’t have to toss down a few truckloads of gravel every year. It took about three hours but I got it all smoothed out. I even managed to expand the driveway where we park our cars. I had been wanting to do that all last year as we have a tendency to pull the trailer alongside the driveway and it would be nice if that area was gravel. I made it happen and now we just need to let the gravel settle and sink in. I have finally managed to build up the gravel enough in our parking area that there are no longer any standing water issues at any time. This used to be a problem and you had to pick your parking spot wisely so you did not get wet feet. Annmarie reminded me that we are going to have to install a package box near the front gate outside of the fence so the delivery people can deliver packages without having to come inside the yard. I was thinking a top open with hydraulic assist lifts but Annmarie said I can just make it a little taller an have the front upon up completely with two doors. She is right, it would be a lot easier. So I will be adding this project to the summer/spring agenda. I have enough spare lumber from the scraps I bought last year from the lumber yard that I can build the entire frame out of pressure treated wood. I have the rough cut 1×12 to side it all and some scrap metal roofing tin. As an added bonus I don’t have to move around a lot!
We had twins out in the barn Friday morning but the little one was getting pushed around by the momma. I turned the other little one out with its momma, without tagging it, and then pushed the twins under the stairs with their momma. The little brown one kept getting head butted but was hollering lots so it was pretty active. I came back two hours later after doing the driveway and it was off to the side and momma would not let it eat. This meant our second bummer lamb of the season was discovered. I took it inside, fed it and tried to set it down, but every time I did that it started to holler. I ended up watching some bad Korean TV series I am currently trying to finish. Tisha came out in a few hours and took it to its new home. The first bummer she has will be happy for the company.
Friday I spent rubbing finish onto the bathroom walls. I had vowed to not be too active but I had called the plumber on Monday and wanted the walls finished before the plumber came. At least the walls where the plumber was going to install something that would block our access to finish them. I am super happy with the finish, it is “Tried and True” wood finish, its just linseed oil and beeswax. Rub it on leaving thin coat, leave for 60 minutes and wipe off any excess very simple and it looks amazing! It really pulled the blue color out of the blue pine. We tried to get the colors to go from dark to light from the entrance to the far end and this really does show that we succeeded. It took me about three hours and I took my time but it was probably too much effort. I managed to do only half the bathroom but it is fairly obvious where I left off at in the pictures. Then I insisted in helping with feeding the cows and sheep. Since the tractor is still broken we had to load up small round bales and put them in the bed of the pickup. Mr Professional came out to help me. I finally had to let him do all of the unloading after we fed the bull, the eaters and the sheep. He fed the female cows alone. I drove the truck. Annmarie said I should not have done so much. I ended up going to bed early and sleeping hard.
The big project was in removing the kitchen wall oven. Our new one is at the store and ready for pickup. So we took out the old one and then drilled 6 holes into the back wall space. That space is fairly deep, around 12-16” deep as there is an old chimney behind the wall. I told Mr Professional to just guess where the studs were and miss them when he drilled the holes! He missed every stud! You could touch one stud with your finger if you reached into the holes, but no stud was drilled! We even cut a 10×10” hole in the floor of the oven area. I ordered a steel heating register to be mounted under the cabinet to make a pretty hole for the heat to dissipate out. The six holes created a draft without the oven in place so we are pretty confident we have enough ventilation now. I suspect we still won’t use the self clean oven function but I should not burn up the oven with a prime rib accident again. The grate should be here this week.
On Saturday, I did not feel very well, the constant chest pain is back and my shortness of breath is worse. It has been almost 8 weeks since I caught Covid and I still cannot do what I want. I have plans to hit it hard in 8-12 weeks and am unsure if my body will physically let me do it! I am not super excited about having long term effects of a virus still bothering me. Mr Professional spent a good part of the day cleaning up and putting tools away. The breeze porch has become a huge dumping ground and we want to get the kennels set back up. Our two new dog destructible proof kennels arrived for the border collies and Gizmo needs his day location revamped. We even worked on adding the metal roofing panels to the interior of the closet. Probably overkill, but we used two scrap pieces to get it done and they would have gone in the garbage anyways. Annmarie cut me a few pieces to be laced in to augment the panels. We want to create an elevated bed so he can sit up in the window and lord over the entire farm from his vantage point. He will love it.
Hard to believe that the back runoff creek is already running! It is only January and it is full of water and moving toward the ocean. The creek is so much wider after the torrent we had last year so I am hopeful it won’t get out of control this spring.
The damn tractor broke again! The worst part is the hydraulic steering cylinder that broke this summer just broke again! I just don’t understand why this is happening. It’s the bolt in the hydraulic cylinder that is shearing. So I will order another one and we can get it installed. Mr Professional managed to use enough bailing twine to get it to hold in place long enough to drive it back to the machine shed.
The winter weather has brought some amazing color changes to the skyline. I have been trying to get pictures whenever the light has been unique. I do love the changes.
I managed to miss one of the extra roosters. I have two now and need to thin the the second one. He is not very good at crowing, he sits on the top of the coop ramp entrance and blocks the hens from going in when it is getting dark. We have had to round up the hens every night and push them into the chicken coop. He is making me crazy. I keep hoping that one of the raccoons will actually eat the spare rooster. It has gotten so bad we are now using the Border Collie, Mouse to herd the chickens back into the coop at night!
We did tag and band the lambs on Saturday and sorted off the seven ewes that we think are pregnant and have isolated them to the momma baby area. Everyone else is now in with the main herd and the entire barn is opened up to them. I will update the lamb statistics next week.
Mr Professional came out on Saturday so we could work on the bathroom. I needed to take Friday off to just rest, still getting over Covid and I just don’t have the stamina to keep going seven days a week without any rest. Normally, I just go and go and use my paid job as rest for my farm job. This is most certainly not the case currently and I am hoping I get back the preCovid stamina I used to have.
We focused on finishing the walls and casing out the windows. The top board for the little window will have to be cut and installed after we install the ceiling and crown molding. My hope is we can get the bathroom ready for the ceiling. The stained glass window is going to look great! Mr Professional said that since I installed the stained glass window I was going to want to install a second one in the original opening I had already installed. It took me thirty minutes to find a custom glass shop that would make a window to fit our already framed opening. The internet is a wonderful thing! I should hopefully get it ordered by next week.
The child informed me that she needed to work on our foot bridge for a physics class homework project. She needed to film a reason to use a lever, our front foot bridge has threadall and nuts to adjust the height of the bridge. Our bridge is getting sway backed and the child definitely had to use the lever to raise the bridge. We only managed to raise the bridge about 3/4” at every post and it made a visible difference. The bridge is a lot stiffer now and not as bouncy. I had obviously needed to do this last year! Yeah for education!
Today, Mr Professional and I worked on the ceiling. It is a tin ceiling snaps that snaps together and molds to the contours. It went in super fast and only took us about three hours to install. I only managed to mark up one incorrectly and we were able to use it later in the closet region. It turned out very nice! The color choice that Annmarie picked really brings out the blue in the wood and just pulls it it out in the entire room. We cleaned out the room, vacuumed up the floor and installed the sink stand. We drilled holes in the back of the stand for the drain pipe and both water lines. The sink and top are just sitting on the stand and still need to be attached. I have not attached them yet as I am not sure if attaching them will make it harder for the plumber or easier so I am just leaving them unattached. The natural sealant is coming in the mail and hopefully will arrive early this upcoming week so we can get it on the walls. Once it is up then the crown molding can go on. The closet door and the shelves will be the very last thing that get installed. I actually want to install all the new electrical hardware as soon as the walls are sealed. We have old style push button switches that would have been standard with knob and tube type electrical wiring. The bathroom is really coming together and starting to shine.
A lot has been happening on the farm. Not a lot by me, but stuff is getting done. As always, Annmarie is keeping us afloat and continues to do 85% of the chores, maybe 90%! I do go out to the barn once a week to “do my part”. Getting to the barn is the hardest part, once I am there I can do the feeding but the return trip to the house I can feel the shortness of breath and chest pain kicking in, I need to get past the Covid leftovers so I can be ready for spring. The sheep are really not doing their part on having babies. They are doing some serious lollygagging, I suspect the chief culprit is the ram. So we are still lambing, one here, one there, we have only had two born since the last blog update.
30 lambs born
20 ewes delivered
15 pregnant ewes (I counted Jan 2, 2021)
10 single lambs
10 twin lambs
1 bummer lamb
29 lambs on the farm
150% birthing rate
145% production rate (goal >150%)
100% survival rate at birth
100% survival rate at 2 weeks (26/26)
On Friday, I needed to go to the scrap metal yard and pickup a culvert and check on my gates. We have opted to no longer go with commercial gates as the bull has decided he can just bend and twist them to his whims. I had asked for three 12’ gates a few weeks ago, I now need five 12’ gates. Luckily, I knew there was needed lag time so I don’t need them for about another two months. I am now on the list for five gates. I picked up two loads of old metal rims for a new section of fence down by the machine shop and a 20’ four foot diameter culvert for the barn lot drive over crossing. This crossing will be about 16 feet of drivable wide crossing with the other four feet taken up by concrete rastra and rebar. I am going to put rastra on both ends of the culvert and some cable between the two ends so if the water runs over the top it won’t be able to push out the downstream side. This and two fencing projects are the big ticket items for this next summer. I ordered an attachment for the tractor bucket that should allow me to push in a T post into the ground instead of pounding it in. This won’t help where its super rocky but the fence I want to install is just long, not horrible tough ground. So I now have some more metal rims, but not enough to do the section of fence I want yet. I will need more trips to the junkyard for that. This expended a lot of energy, even though I did a lot of sitting.
I am not known for my Uber iPhone skills so my phone will randomly take pictures when I am trying to use the camera. I decided to keep the sleeve picture as its my father’s old denim coat from the late 1960’s. We use it as a barn coat and it has just gained more character the longer it is in use.
Saturday morning was the planned day to work on the barn and I just did not want to get out of bed. I was reminded that the day before was really a play day and I now needed to get to the planned job. Again, very correct and I drug myself out of bed and went and picked up Mr Professional so we could work on the bathroom. We managed to get the window cut using a plastic bag and a vacuum cleaner to try and keep the dust to a minimum. This is never possible when cutting sheet rock with a sawzall. So it took another hour to vacuum, wipe up the mess and clean up the stairwell. I spent most of the day cleaning up the breeze porch. The window caulk came and I want to get it up so we can keep some of the bugs off of the porch. We removed lots of trash and tools and even ordered some new dog kennels in an attempt to neaten up the porch.