Office work directed by Mother Nature

Saturday I took the time to eat full breakfast before heading out to the old house office project. I never stop for lunch on the weekends when I am working on the farm. So I try and get my lunch and breakfast calories all at breakfast time, coffee and the occasional water will keep me going the rest of the day. I headed out to the old house to begin work on the wall, Mr. Professional was scheduled to show up in a little bit. He showed up and we proceeded to finish the dividing wall, roughed in the new bigger door opening and then we set the new door! The best part of the day was that we had the new door set, level, shimmed and installed in under one hour! I have never installed a door at any time in an hour. Outside doors usually take a lot longer than that by the time you get done adjusting everything to make the door work properly.

We decided to keep going and installed the door handles. Everything worked except the deadbolt plate will need to be carved out to fit the metal housing that came with the door handles. The weather was off and on rain coming down all day long. We don’t have enough space in the house to bring in the juniper for the ceiling so it is out on the trailer, covered with a tarp. Some of it is getting wet. I figured once we got it all pinned into the ceiling it can dry in place.

I was super stoked about our progress, so much so that I decided to tackle one more project that evening. It was way past our time to clean the instant hot water heater for the house. I had a sump pump that I had to clean the mud out of as I usually use it for water leak hole pumping. I then had to make two more hose fittings to hook up the circulating vinegar up to the water heater. The first version blew vinegar everywhere and I had to redo one of the hose fittings to a new one. I finally got it to work, we have the correct valve setup that allows us to isolate the heater and run vinegar through it. I had to hang out in the laundry room while the vinegar circulated so the hoses stayed in the five gallon bucket. My worst nightmare was trying to mop up four gallons of vinegar off of the floor. So after two hours of cleaning, I unhooked everything and circulated water through the heater flushing all of the vinegar out. The next day when I went to take a shower I noticed a markedly different heat level. The water felt several degrees hotter than it was prior to the cleaning.

Office work

The toad made an appearance today. We hear him and his buddies every evening and morning. I think there was too much rain for him and he needed to get to a drier location. I was looking outside to see how the rain was beating the ground under the eves.

It rained 8/100” last night so haying was off the table during the day which is good because it has now rained a total of 60/100” of rain since last night and it is still raining, over half an inch of rain today. There is no way any outside work is getting done this weekend if Mother Nature keeps this up all weekend. Instead Mr Flow came out and we went to the custom wood mill and picked up Juniper tongue and groove and some more blue pine. While we were loading it onto the trailer the dude working there noticed a transmission fluid leak coming from my pickup. Now this should be impossible as I just picked it up from the shop on Wednesday after they fixed a transmission fluid leak. Yep, they did not clamp the hose down onto the new nipple. It was clamped to a metal piece that was just sittting on the radiator cooler. Hard to believe we did not lose all the fluid moving those bails out of the field yesterday. We came straight home and barely made it around the barn lot over to the old house before having to shut off the pickup, too much hydraulic fluid had leaked out. The pickup is now stuck there until we fix the hose.

Instead I worked on getting the new equipment room completed and Mr Flow worked on getting the new freezer room cleaned up then insulate the exterior walls. I think we are going to leave the interior walls hollow. He even started insulating the ceiling. I finished the equipment room, it was pine on the walls and juniper on the ceiling. We will finish the pine and leave the juniper raw. I started putting up blue pine on the interior wall. My goal is to get the interior wall finished tomorrow and get the front door roughed in. Once the front door is roughed in then we can put tongue and groove along that entire wall. I finally got a hold of the window shop and the new windows should be here on Tuesday of next week. This has been a big holdup for us.

We are looking for a second calf. This morning I could only find Star’s calf and it was with her. Annmarie went down later in evening and the cows all rushed down to the lower area amongst the creek, exactly were we did not want them.

Haying begun kinda

It was been a long week. We had a wonderful weekend away from the farm, which does not occur very often. On Monday, I had to work late and was even later after I went to the supply store and bought woven wire for our yard fence. We have a few more weeks before the puppy arrives and we need a spot to put them initially that is not with all of the bigger dogs, so the side fence has moved up the priority list. We had several boxes on the front porch which turned out to be the wax dipped wood for our honey bee hive. It will need to be assembled. The back gate on the hillside had been left open and once the sheep discovered it they all ran pell mell for the opening. Annmarie went out and got the sheep back in and shut the gate. The back hillside has foot long grass all over it, the sheep are going to be confined to the hillside for quite some time.

Mr Professional and Mr Flex have been coming out all week to work on odds and ends and to get the hay equipment ready. Mr Professional fixed the gear inside the baler, which means I need to explore an overhead lift capable of handling 4000 pounds. It needs to be easy and safe to work on equipment. Mr Flex got the annual chicken coop cleaning done, this is never a pleasant chore. They started in on skirting the old building and our lawn got mowed twice in the same day to get the height down off of the highest mower setting. We could never get ahead of the lawn, it is very prolific this year due to all of the moisture. Mr Professional got our bee hive assembled and the rest of the parts came this week so I set it out where we are going to keep it. I need to turn the entrance so it is unobstructed. This will also put the entrance so it is visible from the kitchen window. I expect us to do a lot of bee watching this year.

We have had so much rain that the barn door warped and cupped inwards. It would not shut once Annmarie got it open. It really needs a little metal bolted to the outside to slow down the warpage. I had to go out and force it shut. It is already starting to go back to its normal shape due to some dry days this week. We got some scrap metal a couple of weeks ago and one or two of those pieces may work to keep the warpage down.

Mr Professional started cutting around the machine shop to test out the new sickle bar mower for the new tractor. I spent one entire evening into the dark turning the cut hay down by the schoolhouse. There is a lot of cheat grass down there, this makes the hay garbage but where we baled the cheat grass last year there is less cheat grass this year and more orchard grass. So we are going to keep removing it from the fields in hopes that we can decrease its abundance. We will over plant with orchard grass also. This seems to be decreasing the amount of cheat grass that is present. It is a battle but if we keep after it I think we can win. We did not cut any of the upper good looking fields because we knew it was supposed to rain all weekend long. Despite that we managed to get 99 good grass round mini bales into the barn for the winter. We are putting them up a lot wetter this year as we had some serious drying out issues last year. We just baled way too late last year after putting the grass on the ground. So we will cut smaller sections this year and not get so far ahead. Yesterday, when I came home I spent three hours helping pick up hay and get it into the barn. I never managed to get changed into farm clothes as I drove right to the field from work. I definitely need some more new gloves. I forgot what it was like to move hay with holy gloves. We feed 4-5 bales every day in the winter to the sheep.

The cows have started having babies. We had a dead calf already, not sure how it died, maybe drowned in the stream where we found it. We have two live ones maybe? Annmarie and Mr Professional claim two, I have only seen one so far. The mothers are notorious for hiding them for the first 30 days. We have opened up the fields near the mother in law’s house in hopes that the cows will bring their babies into the field and we can shut them all in.

The plan is to work on the office this weekend due to the rain. This is bad for the haying side of the farm but good for office progress!!

Cows sorted and back to office

Sunday was the most productive day of the weekend! It is always good to have one day where you feel like a lot was accomplished. Mr Flow came out and worked on the lavender garden and the berry patch. He got he grass cleaned out around all of the berries and all of the lavender. I was pretty surprised when I went over to check on him and could smell the lavender plants! There are not any blooms on the plants but the plants have a definite odor. We are super stoked about the lavender and the clover we have coming in on the front hillside. We are going to get a bee hive this year. We have been talking about it for years and have finally decided to do it. The hive components are here, I just need to assemble them now. Annmarie and I watched a video this weekend so I think I can do it now. We are hoping to get 40-50# of honey this year. If we can figure out how to get the honey out of the combs, one thing at a time.

Mr Tex and I worked the cows this morning. We needed to sort off the 6 month old calves and also sort off the bull. This means we have to use three pastures and the bull needs to be two fences away from any female cow. The cows came through the gate down at the lower end and went right up to the top of the hill but as we started to push them back toward the house they started running down the hill. I ran 1/4 mile in my rubber boots to keep them from turning downhill, by the time we got done sorting cows I needed some better fitting boots. Sorting the cows went pretty smoothly. We have seven cows to sell. Our old bull 13 years old, a young bull about 8 months old, 2 heifers and 3 steers. We are going to buy a new polled Dexter bull that is 2.5 years old. We need the genetic infusion and we found two cows today out of nine that appeared to not be pregnant. So I will be advertising him and the little bull soon. Due to the price of hay skyrocketing we will have to increase our beef price accordingly.

The weather app on our phone said it was going to storm but the weather was pretty good today until about 1630 and then it was horrible. 1/4” of rain in about 25 minutes with pea sized hail intermixed in it. I had gone out to the old house and just waited out there for the hail to pass. The new office area was fairly quite but the new freezer room was incredibly loud. I am hoping we have enough insulation to get all of the walls sealed up. My mother thinks she may have some insulation in the garage so I will need to take a look as we will still need to insulate the attic. We need to install a new roof top vent and I want to install an attic fan that automatically turns on when it gets above 105 degrees F in the attic, that temperature may even be lowered to 95 degrees. Since we have the vent we might as well use it. In the last two days we have had one inch of rain and the total for the month of May is 2.6” of rain to date.

Mr Professional got up on the roof and spent about three hours sealing the roof and putting in new screws that had pulled out or were missing their gaskets. The roof was installed over 30 years ago. We need to pull up the entire ridge cap and reinstall the vent foam to keep the insects out of the attic. Mr Tex vacuumed the ceiling floor and attic walls. I sealed up the attic cracks from inside the attic, it did not take long for the attic to heat way up. Once we finished in the attic Mr Tex and myself insulated two walls in the office and installed three California corners so we could install the wall boards. We also ran the wire for the heat pump. Now, all of the wire is run and I could even start to wire the electrical box and get the breakers in place. I am going to add that to my after work job opportunities. I will need a large flashlight and a board so I can sit in front of the panel and wire everything in place. Once the new breaker box is wired then I can decide when to move the power into the box. I am going to have to wait until the new freezer room is completed. Right before we left for the day we installed a handle on the pocket door! I dug around in the shop until I found an old handle from something that will work.

Office Project continues

Friday I had to go and buy more 2×4 boards. We ran out and more were needed for the California corners and the rough door frame that needs to be installed for the new outside door. They are running about $1/foot. The price is so high compared to a couple of years ago. I had to go in to town to pickup the three cut and wrapped cows. I delivered 2.5 of them and we got the last half. This took a few hours and finished off the day. Mr Flow and Mr Professional came out for a few hours. Mr Flow worked on the lavender patch weeding and the berry patch. They needed a lot of grass removed and some weeds. Mr Professional and I got started in on the production area wall. I had installed most of the insulation first thing in the morning. We thought we had enough four foot tongue and groove boards to get the walls done. The juniper for the ceiling is in the wood dryer and will hopefully be done this week.

The sheep are looking much better now that we have wormed them. They will need it again in a couple of weeks. We had let it go a little long and the sheep were kinda skinny. We have decided to start worming in the fall and early spring whether we think it is needed or not. The sheep have still not rubbed off all of their loose hair yet. They will look much better when they have their smooth coat. We have been moving the sheep around to let the pastures rest. We are going to let them back up onto the hillside to graze. The grass is very tall there.

The weather is so screwy, we had a thunderstorm roll in on Saturday while Mr Professional and I were working on the production area walls. It rained about 3/4” in under an hour. The rain just poured out of the sky. The back creek doubled in size in under thirty minutes and then three hours later was still muddy but back down to almost pre-storm level.

The hay is looking great! We went up to field 1 and it is six inches above my knee. We are going to need to start haying very soon, probably in under ten days. For the haying venture to be successful we need a few dry days on a regular basis. A couple of the lower fields have a lot of cheat grass and were not in the fields we replanted. We are going to bale them and sell them as weedy seconds for cheap. It will pay for themselves.