A life altering event occurred this week, our plumber came! We have the best plumber in the county and I asked him, when I came home to help get the toilet upstairs, when he was going to retire? He said this was his last year. I hope it is for him, its time to rest and get some things done around the house. He spent a couple of days plumbing our bathroom. We got an all inclusive toilet, it is cast as one piece and is smooth on the outside so its easy to clean! He sweats all the copper fittings so I will never be able to repair it, it am just not a very good plumber but in 13 years he has only ever had one thing leak. We even have a main house water shutoff inside the house so you don’t even have to go outside to shut off the water main. I asked for and got a water faucet on the side of the bathroom vanity. I will be attaching a water hose for my inside plants, no more filling one gallon containers to water my plants. I use 4-5 gallons of water a week. I have a lot of plants on the breeze porch. The only thing he did not get done was the drain for our sink, he had to order a matching part to go with our faucet. It will hopefully be here in the next 1-2 weeks. We are waiting to use the bathroom until I get it finished.
Our new stained glass windows came this week also. We had purchased one on the Oregon coast and I liked it so much I talked Annmarie into a second one for the old opening I had already had framed into the wall. It was very well packaged and went in very easily. Both windows were hung for a trial run and taken down so I could paint the inside of the window well white. This will help these holes blend into the wall and reflect more light into the stained glass window. Whenever the hall light is on or its daytime there will always be light in the bathroom now. Sitting in the center of the house it had no natural light.
Yesterday I figured I better get the shelves and closet door up. I managed to glue the first shelf together, as it was already in place and I had to pound it in place just to get it close. It took some glue and quite a bit more pounding to get it together. I need to tear a four inch wide piece to go on the front of the shelf and then cut the remaining three pieces for the bottom shelf. I decided to move onto the closet door and finished putting the screws in, drilled the holes for the rollers then promptly installed the rollers on backwards. After moving the rollers to the correct direction I realized that I am about 1/16” long on the factory bolts. I need a couple of washers to fill in the gap. The real problem with this is I need to get the door up on the wall so I can see if I have the clearance for the washers. So I brought the door in and tried to hang it, yep, its about an inch too tall. I need to cut some off of the bottom of the door. My plan is to just cut off two inches by going between the screws. I was able to make 2.25 of the 3 cuts needed before both batteries died. I will be finishing that job tomorrow. It is starting to shape up. Annmarie bought more baskets for the shelves yesterday. I finally had to move them all out so they didn’t get dirty as I finish it up. It is fairly obvious who will be using the bathroom mirror. She states the mirror is much higher quality, larger and I put in an amazing amount of light so its easy to apply makeup. I am not sure those were my criteria when I was building it…
My plan was to spend two days working on the bathroom. I want to get it done and since the plumber has not been here yet we still cannot use it. I ordered metal shelf brackets for the shelves. I wanted the shelves to get shorter and shallower as you go up the wall. I did not want to get two different size brackets. I was able to find a 8×12” bracket that I could just turn upside down for the shallower shelf. I knew I was going to install runners along the wall and ends but knew the brackets were necessary. I was just going to measure up from the top of the heater box until I figured out that it is not level. So then I had to mark out everything and install the brackets so they were actually level.
I ended up having to tear 1.5” strips to go along the wall between the brackets. This way the back board could rest on the entire back wall and since they are tongue and groove and I am gluing them together as I install it. While I was doing that I decided to get the barn door pieces made and put on top of the glued boards. The boards were not perfectly even so I left about a 1/4” on each end that I will need to trim off before I can hang the door up. I started putting a nail pattern onto the door and ended up only putting enough screws in to hold it all together. I will need to go back and make it pretty before I hang it up.
I had plans on finishing the shelves this weekend but Annmarie wanted me to go it and get rid of the dead alpaca carcass before it started to smell. So I will have to finish them next weekend.
The sheep have gotten out of control! We keep having more lambs. All those sheep we sorted off last month because “they were not pregnant” have all had babies out in the main herd! Unfortunately, I think there are still 2-3 still left that need to have babies. I have lost track of how many we have had to date. Annmarie created a new spreadsheet and she has been keeping it up, I just need to review the data and post an update. Since we have had snow on the ground the sheep have really started going through the hay. I am pretty sure we are going to run out of hay in the barn. We only keep the small bales in the barn, the large bales are either sitting out or in the machine shed storage room. We have only used about 50% of our stored hay to date. I think we may end up storing 20 ton until next fall. This will cut down on how much we need to purchase next this year. It won’t cut it down by 50% but realistically by about 35% which is still better than nothing. I will probably end up pushing a big bale behind the barn for the sheep to tear into and eat what they want. They like to play king of the hill on them more than eat or get on top of the bale and while being king eat from the top of the bale. This will only be possible if the ground dries enough for me to move the bale with my little tractor. I have to make two 90 degree turns and the last turn is tight and if it’s muddy I won’t be able to make the last corner.
On Tuesday we found out that our butcher service was ready for two more cows and requested they be delivered on Friday morning at 0730. This means sorting the cows on Thursday evening, hooking up the trailer and locking them up in the corral so we can just chase them into the stock trailer first thing Friday morning. Honestly, the wife and I were both tired and we tried to push the cows alone and they would not go into the last enclosure. We just went and got the dogs and pushed them in. We usually try and just coax them in without the dogs first but it doesn’t always work. The dogs are more stressful on the animals than us just shooing them quietly toward the fence openings. Annmarie has convinced me that whooping and hollering usually doesn’t do much other than upset the animals, which it turns out is true. The dogs are far more effective than hollering and waving. Zeke still doesn’t like working the cows. He saw the sheep and wanted to go work them instead, I had to tell him we were working “cows”, he seemed a little deflated but went back to moving the cows out of the corner they had sequestered themselves in. Mouse loves the cows, he can stare them down, he can run at them, and if they still don’t move he gets to bite them on the heel or tail to move them, the sheep are boring. I always hook up the stock trailer and back it up to the chute the night before as this saves me from doing it first thing in the morning and it prevents the animals from exiting the corral via the chute. I had the trailer backed up to the chute, lined up perfectly on one try!! This is amazing after all the problems I had when we first got the trailer, it was brutal to try and back that thing up. I did have to pump up one tire, which is better than having to change one tire which is usually the case. The cows went right in and I drove them right to the secret location and unloaded them without a hitch. I thought about taking them for Dutch Brother’s coffee but decided we didn’t have time before their appointment.
I also managed to get the rest of our upstairs bathroom wired. I had a mild panic after I “misplaced” one of the outlet covers. I could not find it despite the 15 minute search. I used one of the other grey covers I had but it was metal not plastic and not quite the right color. I was hoping Annmarie would not notice. I was putting my tools away after job completion and the correct outlet cover magically appeared! It is now installed and they all match. I ordered simple metal shelf brackets last week and they came. If the weather permits we will cut 2” feather strips for the back of the wall and sides with room every three feet for a metal bracket. I want to get all the brackets installed without the shelves in place so I get the placement correct. This will make installing the shelves a simple matter of dropping them into place.
The last big news is we are having a full scale bug war at our house. The warming temperatures have caused the wax bugs and box elder bugs to come out of hiding. It’s crazy and we are killing about 30-50 bugs a day. I have finally resorted to using the Dyson portable vacuum 2-4 times a day to clear out the windows and occasional ceiling bug. I have sprayed the inside windows and it did not seem to do anything. It may be time to look at having new screens made for the windows. Ours have holes in them and are not all fitting tightly. When the weather gets slightly nicer I will start drenching the outside of the house in bug spray and see if I cannot knock down the amount around our house.
Annmarie and I have both been working on design ideas for the Craft Shack I want to build. I have been watching roofing videos on how to build gable roofs and dormers. She has been using CAD programs to draft out the size and inside layout. We think we have a final size. I want to use concrete columns with heavy duty floor jacks so I can level the building and make corrections in the future if necessary. Unfortunately that is 15 concrete piers with a $70 jack on top of every one. I do realize that the first layer is ultimately the most important to the long term viability of any building. We will start looking at prices of wood this summer. The cost of lumber is 2-3x higher than two years ago which is unfortunate for us. I am going to contact the two local wood mills and see if I can buy direct. The real kicker is what type of new and cool tool do I need to purchase to finish the job? I am thinking a rotary self leveling green laser with stand and a air powered framing nail gun. I have everything else we would need.
I had to go out again this morning and run the tractor over the driveway. The snow just keeps coming down, there is over 18” on the ground. I even went down to the pregnant cows and drug a path through the snow to the water and flattened a spot under a tree. They had already knocked down the snow all around the feeder. I went up to check on the upper feeder cows and had to drag a path out to them. They had about 1/3 of a bale so I went out and broke up a bale and scooped it up a few large flakes at a time. I then drove those out to them and tossed them over the fence. When I was cutting open the large bale I discovered that one of the white alpaca had died last night. It was not even frozen or stiff yet, it was curled up sheltered between two large bales. The alpaca are old and we are going to have to look for a few more this summer. So if you know of someone within 120 miles that wants to get rid of their male alpaca we are willing to pick them up and give them a forever home. Unfortunately, we can only take males as we do not want any cria, no baby alpaca! The snow is so deep I was unable to move the body up to the boneyard. I could not even get it out of the field, the snow was just too deep. So I blocked the gate with the body so I will be able to find it when the snow goes away.
I spent the rest of the day trying to get the bathroom wired with our final choices. I installed all of the push button switches and started in on the outlets. I got the lights in but initially had the sconces turned upward. Annmarie came up and looked at it and stated that we had talked about it before and wanted the scones turned downward. So I went back and fixed them and turned them all downwards. They look better turned downwards! I still have three outlets to wire up before I am done in the bathroom. I do need to install a closet light still.
We have had three more lambs born this week. I will have to update the data soon. We tagged the twins, both girls, and turned them loose into the main herd tonight. Annmarie had told me on Friday that I needed to bring the gloves and come to the barn. The Gloves are shoulder length OB vinyl gloves used to be able to reach up inside the sheep and pull out babies. This is never a good sign. Luckily the mother was not in distress so I did not have to intervene. I dread having to use my nursing skills on the sheep.
It is here! Our Montana snow kit has arrived and it is almost the end of Winter. We have had nonstop snow for the last two days and have over 18” of snow on the ground now. Our friend from Montana, Doom, promised to over deliver and under promise when it came to his custom Montana snow kits and he managed to out do himself this year. We are shoveling snow twice a day for the walkway and today I had to break out the tractor and spend two hours clearing the driveway. The snow is getting too deep for Annmarie’s all wheel drive Subaru so I needed to clear a path so we could at least get to the road. They finally plowed our county road today. It is supposed to snow for another 3-5 days then rain for another 3-5 days. It’s going to be a mess and we will probably get flooded again, ugh. Luckily, I expect the new fences I put in to break away instead of bend over like they did last year. I was unable to get the backhoe up to the upper field and redo the ditches that are up there and got washed out last year. This is going to have to happen this year after everything dries out.
When I was out with the tractor I managed to accidentally ran off of the road, tractor slid sideways down a five foot hill. I managed to not roll the tractor and got it to slide down the hill sideways the rest of the way. While I was trying to not roll the tractor I spotted another water leak! I knew there was one as our water pressure had dropped slightly. I am honestly unsure how to solve some of the water leak problems. The last plumbing repair put in a rubber joint to hopefully absorb some of the stress of the pump cycling on and off at the pump outlet. So when the weather warms up I will need to dig the ditch out again and call the plumber. It’s not worth paying the plumber to dig the ditch.
The alpaca just do not care about the weather, Snoop dog has been hanging with the cows and looked miserable with his entire face covered in ice. Annmarie called him over to the gate and I let him through. He rambled up to the machine shed and hid under the overhang to get out of the weather. Within 15 minutes she decided to let the brown alpaca through the gate also so he could get to some food. Before she could get the brown one out of the orchard, Snoop dog ran into the orchard! So he was right back to where he started just back through another gate. The others just wanted to make sure they were near food, the snow and ice just does not bother them.
I got the overhead railing for the bathroom closet door installed and our grate cover for the oven vent outlet hole came. I got them both installed. The snow shoveling has been taking a lot out of me and I have been taking naps, which slows down the process on finishing the bathroom. I did manage to get the final lights brought in from the old house and killed the power to the room so I can get it all wired tomorrow hopefully.
Luckily, we had finished feeding all the cows yesterday before the snow got super deep. My hope is the snow will melt off before I need to feed again.