Rain again.

Last weekend was no exception to the rain all the time theme.  It rained Friday night and our triticale hay was on the ground.  I went to Pendleton and tried three different stores looking for the bolts needed to attach my front tire.  The tractor place did not have them as they are a fine thread 1.5 pitch 14 mm x35 mm.  No one had one that was that short.  I ended up buying ones too long and taking them home and cutting them off with grinder, flattening the cut and chasing the threads with a nut I purchased.  This does not taper the end for ease of inserting.  It took me about 35 minutes to get all four bolts in and tightened up but I did it, otherwise there was going tot be no tractor use this weekend.  I had to go up around 1500 into the far pasture and turn it again until the clouds and lightning strikes got too close.  It did not rain until I made it back to the house and was headed inside.

On Sunday Mr Professional and I worked on the upstairs bathroom.  We had gotten >1/2” of rain on Saturday and the hay needed to dry out before I could do anything with it.  We worked on closet area and the back wall.  We had to go out and get more lumber from the old chicken coop so we could keep lining the walls.  I got behind as I was the one digging out bug damage from the boards with a nail so we could finish the installed boards easily.

As we were working Mr Professional wanted me to install a window where the light access panel is located to allow in some natural light.  The bathroom has all interior walls.  He then suggested a stained glass window as all our lights are stained glass.  We then talked about adding it between the lights on the opposite wall of the mirror.  I actually liked the idea but this level of change requires input from the design boss.  I drew out the area on the wooden wall and when Annmarie got home we pitched it.  She liked the idea and I had a stained glass piece downstairs that was unused.  It was in a cupboard and we purchased it many moons ago at a yard sale or auction, I am unsure which all though I think yard sale.  The window will be removable and the hole will be directly across from the hallway fan and above the fan blades.  We will have to use blue tape to protect the cut edge of the Sheetrock and tape a bag to the outside wall to catch the mess.  It’s going to be hard to not get Sheetrock dust all over the house.  I want to be able to remove the window so I can easily clean the top of the fan as an added bonus.  This got me to thinking about the shelves I want to add to the bathroom and I may make the shelf holders out of horseshoes.  I can weld them up and make sure they are all the same size.

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.