I guess I will work on bathroom again

Sometimes I struggle with what is real important information for the farm blog.  It may appear that farm life is a mere repetition of the same type of themes, what is growing (animals or plants), how is it maintained and how is it harvested.  I would actually agree with this theory.  It is basic, at its core all life is basic, we all yearn and strive to ensure the basics are fulfilled so that we can concentrate on the other things.  So that being said I have determined that minutiae is important, even critical as it breaks up the normal routine.

That being said I now have self granted permission to boast about my rock chuck dispatching.  I spotted it running across the ram pasture, minding its own business.   They live up on the hillside in a large pile of rocks and when they start venturing out and I start seeing them we know there are too many.  They are usually fairly reclusive and avoid the house.  I had to get dressed before I could go outside (it was chilly and clothes are really vital when it is that cold outside). I then had to run upstairs and grab my 117 hmr rifle.  I have not shot this gun much but it has reach that the 22fLR does not and the little digger was about 50 yards away.  I snuck around the house and spotted it down by the creek, I realized while looking through the scope that I need a new scope. This one is not very good and my father spoiled me with Leopold scopes my entire life so I am adding a new scope to my wish list.  One shot and the little digger was dispatched.  They are so reclusive that you usually only get one shot before they all hide for the entire day.  One may ask what did it do to me?  All you need to do is come out and fix some of the fence and rockcribs that have been ruined by them digging holes and you would know.  I don’t go out of my way to eradicate them but population controls are necessary for all the animals on the farm including the ones we don’t raise.  A few animals of any kind are not usually a problem, but a lot of any one type of critter takes a lot more management effort.  The fox has not been spotted in the last two weeks and I have not lost any more chickens but I suspect that the fox is still up and doing fine as it has no predators.  We will keep our eyes out.  I spotted both of our barn cats slinking out around the barn lot this weekend so the fox has not managed to get either of them.


Saturday I decided to do some odds and ends chores to play catch up on the little things.  I hung seven yellow jacket traps out around the house and orchard.  We are hoping to cut down on the yellow jacket population this summer and keep them away from our ripening fruit.  I will also be spraying all of the nests so they do not gain a foothold.

I used the tractor to drag the colored tire pieces over to the future lavender patch.  The bag weighs almost 1100 pounds and my tractor will only lift 800 pounds.  Luckily, it was on a pallet so when I drug it off the pallet it was just touching the ground and I was able to drag it over to its new location.  The four legged 120# cats (alpaca) bum rushed the gate to the orchard as soon as I had it open.  They are so inquisitive that it is painful at times to keep them away from things you don’t want them in.  You cannot let them touch it with their lips or let the gate be open or they will touch it or go through it no matter what is on the other side.  While I was over by the future lavender patch I killed all the thistles with a shovel.  I just need to to roll out the ground cloth and start piling on the rubber bark to hold it down.

I also went out into the orchard and cut all the metal tree rings in half with the bolt cutters.  I was unable to finish tearing them down as I did not have any fencing pliers.  I need two of them to go around the new kiwi plants and then I will have five more ready for more fruit trees.  I will probably dig holes and install the other five rings so I am ready for more fruit trees.  I am on the lookout for 1-2 standard size apricot tree saplings.  Since I had the bolt cutters I also trimmed a piece of  cow panel to go under the orchard gate to prevent Zeke from digging under it and escaping the new orchard fence.

Annmarie offered to grill dinner as we are getting tired of eating beef, pork or lamb from the stovetop.  Unfortunately, I needed to do the spring cleaning on the grill and to make matters worse I cannot use the grill.  No matter how many times I have tried to use the little grill I have messed it up.  The last two times I have even failed to get it lit properly (it’s a little pellet grill).  So I spent an hour cleaning it all up and making it spiffy and nice so Annmarie (the pants wearing variety) could run the grill and make us dinner.  This has really been the story our entire life.  I do not have the patience for the grill and never really learned to master it or even barely use it.  I have embraced this knowledge and let Annmarie do all the grilling for us.  Even now, I am making the rice and steaming vegetables while she is out grilling us chicken pieces in peanut satay sauce that I trimmed and marinated this morning.    After I cleaned the grill I washed and cleaned off the back porch siding to make a nice neat area.

Yesterday afternoon I went out and collected two more hay samples for Annmarie to test.  The weather has just not been cooperating I need 3 good solid warm and windy days all in a row and have not had it since I cut the grass hay.  She got 39% and 43% which is better than the last time we tested but still not low enough to bale.  I went out on the tractor and turned it one more time.  I am getting used to the hay rake and it only took me 2.5 hours to turn all 7 acres.  This was of course negated today by the 21/100” of rain that we had pour out of the sky.  I will be looking at turning the hay again in a couple of days.  I think its supposed to rain every 1-2 days all week long.  This is not helping my haying abilities.

After dinner we had to go outside and use the dogs to chase the sheep off of the back hillside.  I have not yet dropped the panels down into the back creek as I keep expecting us to get a bunch of water runoff from the mountains.  It is now Mid May and we still have a low Stewart creek so after the dogs did their job I lowered the first set of panels down into the creek bed to stop the sheep from escaping.  I have three other creek crossings that I am going to leave up for now.


So today was a lazy day except for the bathroom, I cut the single hardest piece of wood yet, it had part of an arch from the top of the mirror, a light outlet notch and I had to cut out around the door all on one piece of wood.  The real problem is there is about 1/2” difference on height between the mirror sides.  I cut a template three separate times and had to make two attempts at the board and finally had to bring the jigsaw up into the bathroom to make a couple fo final adjustments.  I got it in, its not perfect but it is the best I could do and I suspect most people will not notice the gap.  If I cut it in half I could have covered it up or if I rip apart the right side of the mirror and slowly add in some space I could make up the difference.  I am not going to do it.  The wife said it was good enough and I am going with that.


Was supposed to hay

It has not been the week I expected.  I tried to beat the rain last weekend.  We had cut the hay (no real choice if a weed patch was going to be prevented) and I really wanted to make it into hay bales.  I spent one evening and on into the dark and finished rowing the hay.  Mr Professional had done half during the afternoon and I finished after dark.  The rows are very easy to make into tall rows.  I told myself not to do it but after turning around at the end of the field it just lent itself to the large row.  I also had to get off the tractor twice and cut the grass off of the driveline.  Once it almost seized stopped turning there was so much on the shaft.  It was very hot when I cut it off.


Mr Professional and I spent Sunday, Mother’s Day, mowing the front lawn.  Annmarie wanted the lawn mowed.  I spent 2 hours just picking up bones, sticks, branches, dog toys, and disassembling the calf pen we had created in the yard.  While I did this Mr Professional worked on mowing the lawn.  We had to break out the weed eater and the drive handle on the mower broke.  It was one thing after another.  Luckily we managed to get it done and after I cleaned up I went out to the barn garden and checked up on the plants out there.  I think one of the Seaberry plants might die.  I had one climbing plant die and I need to run the sprinkler a little more often.  I also spent some time and weeded around the planted items.  My goal this year is to just keep everything alive and let it get some roots in the ground.  I am not looking for hardly any growth.

I went out yesterday and spread wildflower seeds all over the barn garden.  It has been raining a lot so I am hopeful that some of the seeds will take off.  I will probably have to get in the garden with the weed eater and knock down the grass.  I may even spend some time weeding.  I used to hate weeding but it was not so bad the other day.

It started raining right after I got the hay rowed.  I got an extra day off mid week with the expectation that the rain would hold off for two days and let me get the hay put up into bales.  This did not happen.  We had 1/2” of rain one day and 1/4” the next day over 24 hour periods.  We even tested the hay moisture percentage to see if it could be baled before the rain but Annmarie got 39% and 49% on the two samples she did.  She keeps zapping them in the microwave to get a dry weight and wet weight.  We are thinking about getting an actual meter to do this in the field but for now we can do it the old fashioned way.  We could use the oven also but the microwave is probably faster.

My goal is to go out this afternoon and collect three more samples to see where we are at after all the rain.  I will then hopefully spread out all the rows again and let it dry quickly.  It is supposed to rain again in two days!! I may be baling in the dark.


So instead of haying I worked on the upstairs bathroom.  I need to get the tongue and groove wallboard installed and oiled so the plumber can come do his part.  Unfortunately, Annmarie stated that I needed to follow the angles of the mirror.  It took me four boards and on the final board five adjustments to get it to fit properly!  Each try requires me to walk downstairs, outside and go over to the old house and use the saw or jigsaw.  It took me almost 2 hours for that single board.  So when Annmarie said I could use a reject piece for the opposite side I was overjoyed!  It would be able to just slip it in even though it was a solid blue piece she was willing to insert it into the plane side.  Function over form was going to win.  Unfortunately, there is a slight difference and I had to cut it for its own unique angles and spacing.  It was off by 1/8”!!  So the color scheme was maintained.  I was going to square off the mirror with boards over the top of everything but again the design won out and I am now cutting everything to mimic the mirror angles and we found some brass finials online that are 1.5” diameter and I will nail six of those around the mirror to keep it from falling out away from the wall.  I also forgot to stick the 1/2” double switch box extension behind the wood so I will now have to remove it and use a different type of box extender.  My goal is to keep plugging away at the bathroom until it is done.


Bathroom is Taking Shape

I have been tinkering in the upstairs bathroom all week.  I sneak up for 30-120 minutes to try and get some more work done.  I managed to get the right side of the backsplash sided and needed the mirror installed to start working my way up the wall.  I took the mirror apart and scrubbed the wooden base in the kitchen sink with a lot of Dawn dish soap and a nonscratchy pad.  It was filthy.   I had to just put a temporary board in at the top to keep the mirror in place.  I pigeon toe nailed the wood above the tiles.  I wanted to cut off the curves and make it a 90 degree angle.  This would have made cutting the side piece much easier.  I was vetoed.  So I have attempted to cut all the angles and getting the tongue and groove to match at the same time.  I was pretty dang close the first time, but Annmarie cut me some paper angles to make the curve part easier. I have not attempted my second try.  I had broken my jigsaw (at least 15 years old, cheap and made of plastic) on the first attempt so figured I needed to replace it if my second attempt was going to work out.


I took Thursday and made arrangements to drive over to the Tricities and pick up our completed vanity top.  They had our vanity, the top (they made it) and our sink, this was to ensure that they got all the parts matched.  It was sitting up against the wall in their office and the person that helped me carry it to the car was sad to see it go!  He said it was their display piece and showed off what they could really do.  I happen to agree with him and he said it was a pleasure to work on as it looked very nice and the cabinet was well built and would take the weight of the granite slab without any problems. All of those are included in the reasons why we wanted to use this old washstand that was in the house when we moved in.


I had to cut out the right side of the drawer so the plumbing can all go on the right half.  The problem with this is we still wanted the drawer to work.   So I built a box and reinforced it and cut out the part where the plumbing is going to go.  The picture on the left is from underneath the cabinet looking up at the bottom of the drawer.  This was before I cut the holes in the top for the water supply and sink drain. I used old Zinc flat head screws that have been on the farm for forever to put all the pieces together.

Today I started drilling holes for all the plumbing.  The water supply side (small hole) needs more wood cutout from underneath.  There is another 3/4” piece of wood along the back of the cabinet and I need to move it back 3/4” from the hole so that the faucet can be clamped down to the top.  Two boards and a piece of granite make the hole too deep for the faucet per the instructions I found online.  The plumber has the actual faucet and will bring it, the toilet and all the plumbing parts to complete it once we get the walls installed and oiled.


I will need to hit this with some Murphy’s wood soap before I take it upstairs so it starts out clean.  I am really looking forward to having a second toilet in the house and especially one that you do not have to go downstairs in the middle of the night to use!


Spring is back


The weather is better every day.  The sprayer rig is completed.  Mr Professsional has been out for a couple of weeks helping me.  He has got the sprayer fine tuned and all of the bottoms have been sprayed with 2-4-D.  The upper two pastures that had grass in them last year that looked good last year look great this year.  The boom nozzles needed screens and of course we blew out a chunk of hose.  There is enough hose to redo all of the exposed lines and if I continue to store it in the machine shed it should not get sunburned and all brittle.

I really need another metal cabinet so I can store all the parts for various equipment in it.  I have a little one but it is filling up fast with all the assorted stuff.  I would like a shelf for each piece of equipment.  Keep it simple and I could label each shelf and outside the cabinet.  Something to think about.

I have been trying to work on the upstairs bathroom.  It has been fraught with the usual bad choices.  When I first installed the lights 12 years ago I did not make them level with the lights on both walls.  I also did not plan for installing a mirror.  I had to move the one light to fit the mirror then I needed to move the two lights opposite so they were at the same height.

This turned out to be a much longer process than one had imagined if that one was me.  I marked out the spots and as I was moving the boxes realized that some of the wires were going to be just long enough to stay in the boxes but not long enough to attach to anything so a jumper wire was necessary.  I spent three days a couple of hours a day getting everything moved around.  I then flipped the switch and only one outlet out of three worked and no lights.  A couple of days later I tear apart every connection looking for a loose wire.  Then I start testing all the switches and lights to check for continuity so I can start drawing the  wire diagram in my head.  This would be the wire diagram that Annmarie asked me to draw out on paper 12 years ago.  I know that you will all be shocked to hear that I did not draw it out.  I told her it was all in my head and the wiring was done anyways so it did not need to be written down.

Six hours later I still could not figure out why there was no power.  I started tearing boards off of the wall and sticking my phone in the wall and taking pictures.  This was how I discovered that I had let the power wire drop down into the wall.  It just needed to be attached and everything else worked, after I put it all back together again.  So now we have lights and power in the correct places.  We are trying to create a dark to light pattern on the walls from the doorway.  Will see if we can get it to turn out.  We have decided to just use some Danish Oil on the walls as finish to bring out the blue pine color.

Annmarie made homemade Focaccia bread in a cast iron pan.  It was amazing and she made my favorite pasta dish for my birthday dinner.  We normally go out for our F03C4224-7B12-4382-BEC8-5B0C14D966D9birthday dinners and I have to say that I think this was one of the better birthday dinners I have had recently.  She did an amazing job on the entire thing.









Bathroom is moving forward!

I want to be able to not have to go down the stairs to pee in the middle of the night.  This is becoming more and more of a priority for us.  So the child came out yesterday and she shlepped clean water up and down the stairs while I squeezed grout between the tiles using a grout pastry bag.  We used the same epoxy grout that was left over from the floors downstairs.  It is 100% waterproof but incredibly hard to put down.  I had some tips from the tile store and did smaller sections of floor and just kept cleaning and cleaning over and over again.  It turned out better than when we did the downstairs floor.  Eighty square feet took us 5 hours to get completed.  I also recut the door threshold from the original to reuse.  The entire floor was grouted on Saturday.

On Sunday we worked on getting the backsplash installed.  Again it took almost four hours to get 19 tiles laid onto the wall.  The copper coated tiles look great but they are incredibly painful to get to stick.  I had to cut them apart to get them to fit around the plumbing then we just patched in 1 small, large or two small tiles to fill in the gaps wherever they would fit regardless of the pattern.  Sarah and I figured no one else would be able to tell.  We included a picture to see if anyone notices the differences.  Sarah even managed to get a couple of action shots of me hard at work.  I sandwiched the tiles together but I think that grout is going to be necessary.  I have some no sand grout that will go over everything.  I am also told that our wall finish wood is cut and ready for pickup.  I ordered 1600 Lf of 1×6 blue pine.  I need to get the wall behind the toilet area installed, then go over to the Tricities and pickup my bathroom vanity, granite top and sink as they are ready to go.  Once that is done it is time for the plumber to install everything!  The bathroom can be used while we finish installing the rest of the boards on the walls and ceiling.

I had another stupid chicken die.  Some times I am amazed that they can even figure out how to breathe.  I have lost two this month already.  I think it is the normal spring virus the chickens get when the waterfowl move in.  It’s so annoying, I plan on 4-6 dying every year.

Sloth speed engaged

Well a new bathroom upstairs would be very nice and there is progress being made on said bathroom but it is not happening very fast.  Last week we got the kick board tiles installed and now need to install the backsplash.  I will try and squeeze in some time this week to run the grout cleaner between the installed tiles and vacuum the entire area so its ready for grout.  I figured I really need to install the backsplash first but I am sure that will take me about three hours to get right.  The problem with tiling is not that it’s hard it is just very tedious when done right.  You have to constantly check yourself to ensure that you are still level or on the line.  The tiles want to start to move when you get a bunch in a row and you have to leave space on the outside for movement.  Negating your choice to just jam them in place until they are stuck.  We are happy with the results so far.

I drove over to the Tricities ten days ago to pick out a granite top for our vanity.  We are going to reuse the old wash basin that was stashed in one of the rooms of this house.  It’s made out of solid wood.  The real problem is it has a scalloped shaped top and I knew it would be hard to cut a top to match.  We took the vanity and our hand hammered sink with us so we could match them from the scrap pile.  I had also used a piece of clear plastic to mock up the granite top and took that also.  It only took about 15 minutes to find a piece that went well with the sink.  Since we live so far away they agreed to mock it up and just send me an email to authorize the CNC template.  A computer cuts the granite to any shape!







The granite place sent us a completed picture after they finished.  It is amazing!  I love how it turned out.  I had them not set the sink or glue the top down to make it easier for me to bring home.  I will get it all put together when I get it home.  I need to cut out the right half of the top drawer to make room for the drain and faucet.  I am very happy with the amazing work they put into this solid vanity.  We are not going to refinish or do anything to the wooden cabinet.  It has some dents and dings and we want to leave those in place.



Still lambing

Well, we keep after it and it seems like another set of lambs pop out every other day.  We have had two sets of twins and another single this week.  We are getting so desperate for it to be over that we went out and counted every ewe we had.  Annmarie made a database with all the ewes in it so we can mark them off after they have their babies.  We needed to know when we are going to be done.  We have 7 ewes left and as of this morning we still had seven ewes to deliver for a total of 38 ewes delivering.


We started to ask around about survival rate on the lambs.  One old farmer told us anything over 75% was acceptable.  I did an internet search and found a study out of Canada from their country agricultural department and they said anywhere from 10-30%.  They wanted all farms to be <10% but in the study the average was 16% and as high as 33%.  Since this is the first year we have tracked it we are just going to have to watch it from year to year and see how we do.  They did say that if you have a single lamb then the survival rate is >90% and twins its >70%.  So it varies dramatically by how many lambs your ewes are producing.  The other interesting fact was the males die at a higher percentage than female lambs, males are the weaker gender.  We have had 11 lambs die and one of the oddities we have started to notice is that >50% of them are brown and white in coloration.  We have about five distinct colors among the new lambs but over half that have died are brown and white.  The other thing we have noticed is that if the lambs are screamers, even if they nurse, they still have a tendency to die.  We are not sure what that means other than males are the weaker gender.  We have not been checking genders on the dead lambs, maybe next year.


Mouse looks so peaceful here.  He is all about working when he is outside.  He wants to move animals all the time.

I have been working on getting the upstairs bathroom ready but caught the plague from Annmarie and have been out of the picture for 36 hours.  I need to order the tongue and groove boards for the walls and ceiling this week.  I have still not done that and keep saying I will.


This is what the floor looks like before it is all dry.  The dark red is the dry area.  It paints on pink.  I tried to use foam brushes but discovered that they tear up and it takes me 3 brushes to get a single coat on the floor.  I want to do one more coat and am hoping to do it this afternoon.  After this last coat dries I will have a waterproof membrane down and it will be ready for tile.  This needs to be done as spring is coming and I will be stuck outside for months on end trying to keep up with the spraying and haying.  Our new battery for the buggy is here and I need to install it and the trickle charger, then mount the sprayer so it is ready to go this spring.