TREX deck progress made today

We had a lot of stuff going on today and were able to make some serious progress. Mr I need a Belt Bad came out and finished up the chicken coop. He got the back room vacuumed and all of the old poop out and moved the bedding around so that there is a bed of fresh pellets on the floor for the chickens to make a mess in. I also got rid of the grass seed that was stored in a bucket in the back room. I spread it all over the ram pasture as the mice had been making a mess in the room and eating the grass. Once I had it spread out on the ground the chickens started to eat it. No one understands it is supposed to stay there on the ground.

Mr Rainman came out at 0700 and we started setting up all of the tools to work on the front porch. By 0730 Mr Professional had shown up and we started in on the front deck. We ended up putting a couple of yards of gravel under the deck to keep down the dust and provide some drainage. Once that was done we started in on separating out TREX and figuring out what to do next. We started on installing the fascia. I had purchased this special tool and plugs so you could hide all of the screws. It was laborious but it turned out really nice and I only complained for an hour about the $1/screw price. It takes two people to install and move the TREX as it is incredibly flexible and it is possible to break it. We did not break any today but we had laid it all out on the South side of the house so the TREX was absorbing the sun on a 93 degree day and it was hot to the touch!! It made cutting and moving it difficult unless you were wearing gloves. I was the only one wearing gloves. Not for the heat, I took a chunk out of one finger yesterday with the impact driver and did not want to bleed on all the decking while we worked again, so I had gloves.

We did the stairs next and of course there was a bow in the middle of the stair. We managed to hide it with some creative spacing and it all turned out well. The stairs are all done now but there is a large dust spot at the bottom of the stairs. This is due to the bushes we removed and then the weeds we killed and then the continual beat down the area has received. This is causing a 1/4” of dust to be conveniently placed at the start of the stairs so all of that dirt can be tracked directly into the house. This is going to need to be addressed at some point soon.

Mr Professional and Mr Rainman are returning tomorrow to work on the deck while I am at the paying job. We only have 6.5 boards left for the outer edge and it will take 6 to finish it so there is no margin for error. I am wishing them well now. My reaction may be different tomorrow.

I have a new Companion!

It has happened, my new tractor has arrived and was delivered on Wednesday. I was given the safety speech and how to operate it instructions so once the papers were signed it was all ours. Yes, I opted to go with a Kubota this time around. So we are going to see which one I like better, the John Deere or the Kubota. They both have advantages so we will see how they compare over the next few years. It was very easy to get the new sickle bar mower off so I could go out and play with my new Companion for a few hours. I spent the next three hours moving gravel for Mother-in-law’s new shed. I managed to get the tractor to rock front to back pretty easily with a full bucket of gravel even with 300# of ballast in the tires. At one point I had the tractor on two opposing tires, one front and one back wheel, the bucket movements need to not happen suddenly and during a turn. The five foot vs four foot bucket makes a huge difference when moving gravel. I parked the Companion under cover and left the Mistress out in the weather. I need to clean up the machine shop again and make more space to park equipment.

I had plans to go pickup two new rams, one for us and one for Pahlow Farms. They bought a bunch of ewe lambs from us this year and plan on growing their own flock. We had the mellowest batch of lambs ever this year so they are starting out great. I had to clean out the pickup, gas it up and install the animal racks into the bed. The racks can be leaned back, driven up to then drop the front onto the tailgate and then lift and slide them in. This is possible to do with one person but it is a lot of work and not easy. I need to make a rack that stores them up in the air and you just slide them in and out of the pickup using a rope. Since I don’t have this fancy tool I muscled it into place. I had three tie downs so I tied it down on three of the four corners. Sarah had volunteered to go with me in the morning, we were going to near Canby, OR.

The trip is almost a four hour drive each way. We went around Portland but still saw homeless camps along the freeway, while traveling I-205. The traffic is terrible, we went from 15 mph to 65 mph, up and down for no apparent reason. Luckily, the child is used to me hollering and talking to myself which was in abundance once we got into traffic.

We got there 7 minutes late and had to wait another 10 minutes so she could sort the rams off of the herd again. They kept sneaking back in with the mommas. They both look great, we love the temperament and size of all her rams. These two are only about six months old. They will add on at least another 100-120# as they mature.

Once we got back we just parked the pickup in the orchard and opened the gate on the animal pen. We figured the new boys would get tired of hanging out and decide that jumping out to see the four sheep in there would happen, it did later.

One day of productivity

Yesterday was the official return to home date after our stint at Church camp, I was the camp nurse and Annmarie was the camp chaplain. It was very relaxing, nothing to do, very little nursing work for me and we both got to take naps every day! Mother Nature could have turned down the heat some but it was so much better than the two weeks prior that I was not going to complain. We brought home 25# of black cherries I picked from an orchard in Cove and we are going to work on trying to eat them all in a week. It’s going to be a challenge but after we gave some out to the various family members so we should be able to do it.

As we were driving down the driveway we had a discussion about me needing to give the cows some more food. I really need to finish tagging that last calf and banding the one that got away. This will allow us to swap cows and sheep. We need to move the four cows in the upper field down to the lower pasture and all the momma, bull and calves and all of the sheep to the upper fields. I can open up field four so that the animals have access to filed #2-4. This should give them enough food for at least 8 weeks if not longer. This no rain or moisture weather is rough on pasture. My Mother-in-law called me this morning while I was picking up Mr Professional to also request that the cows get food today. We went out to get bales but the bucket on the old tractor was acting up and I could only tip the tractor bucket not raise and lower it. So we stopped, cleaned out the linkage, tore it apart, tightened a few spots and then lubed it all up so it works very well again. This will help Mr Rainman finish cleaning out the barn this week. I was able to pull bales out and push them to the cows below and the two stuck in Alcatraz.

Once that was done we dug holes in the front yard and concreted in the two end posts for our new stair railings. We then finished getting most of the substructure completed. We just need to get the outside railing in and the stabilizer boards between the decking boards installed. I need to focus on getting the house cleaned, curtains installed down in the craft room, and toilet paper holder installed in the upstairs bathroom. We have company coming on Saturday so we will need to be ready. I am driving on Friday to go pickup our new ram.

Vacation work, best kind

We actually took a vacation and left the farm for a week! Sarah stayed home and took care of the Border Collies and my mother took Gizmo home with her so he could get a daily Hill’s hot dog for dinner every night at 1600. She says he is not spoiled but he only weighs 11#, that is a lot of hot dog!

While we were gone Mr Professional changed out my car door that was damaged by the deer. Unfortunately, a 2012 Ford Focus is not worth a lot of money and the cost to repair it was more than the car was worth. I was able to purchase a junkyard door, courtesy of an old Rob’s Speedy Delivery vehicle in the junkyard, and a new mirror. Mr Professional reused the interior door panel and my door handle. It works great, it is a little jarring on appearances but functionality is 100% so I am going with that standard. My goal is for me to hold out for at least another 3-4 years before I need to replace my car.

Mr Rainman came out also while we were gone and started cleaning out the barn. This is usually a 40+ hour thing and takes a couple of people. After two days he is almost done!! I could not believe how much he had gotten out. I am going to attribute it to our dry spring and not having 65 ewes in the barn. He has a few hours left and he will be done. Now that the bucket controls on the tractor are repaired he should have no trouble finishing up in one day. I am going to save cleaning out the chicken coop for Mr I Need a Belt Bad, I don’t want to deprive him of the experience. It is a character building endeavor, plus you have to wear an N95 mask the entire time.

Sheep sold for year

Annmarie took care of the lambs this year! We sold Pahlow Farm in Elgin, OR 24 ewe lambs and 4 whethers. We sold 11 whethers and a cull ewe to our regular buyer and we kept 3 whethers for local customers and one replacement ewe lamb for a grand total of 43 lambs. The real problem here is we should have had 6 more lambs as we did find one dead one in the barn lot.

We figured we lost six lambs from the lambs going into the upper field and getting eaten by some predator. We are not sure if its a cougar or a bobcat. We have had neighbors and helpers see both on the property. The bobcat was spotted trying to kill a fawn. Again we have that dilemma about cost versus loss savings. We lost about $500 worth of lambs. Annmarie has me trained during the winter to bring in the sheep. After the first few times the sheep pretty much do it themselves as they quickly learn we are feeding them when they show up every night. I take the summers as a time to just let them run wild and do whatever they want. What this really means is I don’t have to go out every night and get them into the barn lot and lock them in and then in the morning let them out again. So if we figure the summer consists of four months or 120 days and we lose $500 worth of sheep it costs us $4.20/day to not bring the sheep in every night. Now this is a fixed cost so only bringing them in occasionally will not be a cost savings, it has to be every night to realize an actual savings. Maybe what we really need to do is to run the alpaca with the sheep during the summer? We could get a little donkey to keep the horse company but it would really be for the sheep and I am afraid it would just get fat on an all you can eat diet like the sheep have. The donkey would have to be fairly cheap to make up for the loss of lambs and any upkeep it would cost us. Our adult ewes are still coming into the barn lot every night on their own so their good habits seem to be protecting them.

Annmarie had some help from Mr Rainman to sort them as they had all gotten back together. The latch I was supposed to repair a couple of months ago on the barn lot double gates failed and allowed the entire herd to reform. So they had to sort out the lambs from the ewes and then sort off two groups of lambs. She managed to get both parties to come on the same day to pickup lambs so sorting only had to be done once! She said the lambs were so tame that even a shaker stick would not move them down the chute. This is a good problem to have, usually they are so flighty that its hard to keep them contained. We have been working on temperament for years and it looks like we are finally starting to get some success. Pahlow Farm has a St Croix ram so it will be interesting to see what the blood line addition will do to the new babies.

Our three local sales and replacement ewe will hang out in the orchard for a few months and then become food and breeding stock. The game birds are doing amazingly well this year. We are seeing quail everywhere and today spotted a pair of adults with 10 babies! We have pairs of quail all over the place and went into spring with 40-50 mature adult quail. If every pair has 5 babies that would be another 100 quail but it could be another 250 quail! I told Annmarie if they can get past 500 quail maybe then we would consider culling some but not until they become a nuisance. They are by far and away our favorite bird on the property. I even spotted the Hun partridge covey again this week when I was coming to work. On our way home last night the stubble field had five whitetail buck deer in it grazing away after dark. There are a couple of nice four point bucks in the group but I did not get a buck tag this year.

The heating/air conditioning got repaired today! Annmarie says he is now her favorite man of the year. The house was 72 degrees within 15 minutes of it being repaired, the entire house! It was amazing, and yes he is secretly my favorite man of the year also. 72 was too cold so we had to turn the air conditioner up to 74 degrees so an extra layer is not needed inside the house. I am hopeful that Mr Rainman can get the entire place mowed next week and Mr Professional can get the yard cleaned up and my replacement door onto the Ford Focus that was attacked by deer.