Well we are finally starting to make progress on the finishing touches for the front porch. Mr Professional and Mr Rainman got the blocks installed on Friday. They were having some trouble with the corners getting them to match up and get the cut angles correct. I told them I would get it this weekend. I spent about two hours on Sunday cutting angles with the wet tile saw and then breaking the blocks with a mason’s hammer. I then used a diamond blade to grind the rough edges smooth. I was able to make both corners and ends fit nicely. Annmarie thought I had not had enough water to drink, said my lips looked like I was dying. I had to go inside and look in the mirror, I had concrete dust all over my face and my lips were a pasty white color! I am going to live.
I let the sheep into the front yard hillside both days this weekend. I put the dogs on their runs and then had to chase the sheep into the yard as they just did not want to go on their own. I ended up using Zeke to chase the sheep into the yard every morning and then used Mouse to bring the cows in every night. Mouse is starting to dramatically improve. Separating him from Zeke when they work has helped a bunch. He is really starting to listen and we can just focus all our attention on him. The front hillside has at least five days worth of food on it. We are keeping the sheep in front of the barn due to lambing season, but since we had the one baby last week, we have not had another. A few of the mommas look like they are getting milk, and we are hopeful they will have babies this week. I think the sheep can eat on the hillside for another few days. The only problem is the dogs need to stay on the runs outside to prevent the sheep from eating my trumpet vine and my hens and chicks. Eventually we will finish the rock wall out front and get a fence on top of it to keep the dogs out or in depending on if we are using one side as a buffet for the animals.
Saturday was moving large hay bales onto the farm day. This typically takes most of the day. Mr Rainman cleaned out the machine shed storage area and then proceeded to clean up the machine shed in between loads. The new tractor can just barely lift a new bale off of the ground but it cannot get the lower bale on top of another bale. It just won’t lift it up and the governor won’t let it lift that much weight. So we were only able to get 13 bales in the machine shed and 9 more in the horse arena we moved next to the grain bins. This keeps the alpaca from tearing up the bales. They are horrible about burrowing holes into the bales. They love alfalfa!
Mr I Need a Belt Bad spent two days digging out the front ditch. The weeds were clogging it up. He helped me dig out a ditch in front of the block wall today. I ended up having to drag some dirt to lower the area some in from of the new porch. Now that a rain ditch has been installed it will need to be filled with gravel. My railing part for the stair railing is on factory back order. It may get shipped this week, I am unclear on if this will actually happen. The new Kubota 3100 tractor is a little big to use inside our yard. I am loving the tractor so far but in the yard the small space would be better served by the little John Deere, but it has a flat front tire. I will need to get that fixed this week. There always seems to be something.
Annmarie and I went out to the orchard just before dinner and ate some honey crisp apples directly off the tree. They were so good, the dang yellow-jackets think so also and have been eating the near ripe fruit. I am going to have to hang out traps next year and see if that slows them down. We took about 30 minutes Saturday morning to drag out the path of our next fence. It is going to be blocks on the lower half and a metal topper. I measured the posts today and their outside dimension is 1 5/8”. So I need to buy a pipe with an inside diameter just over that so I can set the new pipe into the ground in concrete and then slip the fence inside of it.
There was some discussion this morning on what exactly should be on the to do list for the day. I wanted to focus solely on the porch. I had big plans for getting the block all the way around the porch and was pretty certain it could be done in a day with the help I had on hand. Alas, a long discussion was had at the breakfast table and my new list consisted of a lot of cleaning up of other projects. The ram pasture has all the burn scrap from porch and still has a pile of fencing from the flood damage, the old house porch has scraps, the yard has pallets and unused pressure treated wood, there is trash in the yard, there are weeds in the garden, and a few other things that did not involve the porch.
When Mr I Need a Belt bad arrived I had him go over and work on weeds in the berry patch. On my way over to the berry patch I noticed that the yard had a three foot no mow area next to the fence along with a sprinkler in the front yard that had just been mowed around. I had instructed him to move all of the hoses first yesterday before mowing. So after weeding for a couple of hours, he got the mower out, moved both hoses and proceeded to finish mowing the lawn. He also put the mower back away in the shed. I was late picking up Mr Professional so we just went right to picking up the yard, we pulled the flat bed 16’ trailer around and proceeded to fill it with burnable trash and a few pieces of wood we wanted to save. We still had a small pile of pressure treated wood and the 16’ pressure treated 2×6 for the trumpet vine. So instead of leaving the board in the yard we tore down the broken board. While we were on a ladder doing this we found two more broken boards that needed torn out and one replaced. We had Mr I Need a Belt Bad go get the lawn mower again. Since we had moved all of the boards out of the yard and I had picked up the trash it was time to mow this section of lawn. So I mowed, and he dumped the grass and put the lawn mower away.
As Mr Professional and I were installing the second board I had to crawl up onto the top of the four foot ladder and had inserted myself between some broken boards In an attempt to get an angle on a screw and take the boards apart. I was using the broken boards to stabilize myself and when it suddenly broke, I started to fall off the ladder backwards. Since I understood the precariousness of my position I wasted no time in flailing about for a handle. Unfortunately, the trumpet vines are loved and adored by many different kinds of flying insects of which one is a yellow jacket. They eat the sweet nectar. The mean little bastard understood that I was defenseless and took the opportunity to strike! He stung me on my right ear, but I did not even pause for my goal of reaching a stabilizing point to interrupt the fall perseverance and focus allowed me to grab a stable part of the structure and stop my fall. I spent the next five minutes pinching my ear lob in an attempt to get the burning to stop. While Mr Professional was installing a support board I used the hand clippers and started to cut out some branches over the roof and to trim out all the dead wood. This made quite the mess on the ground and Mr I Need a Belt Bad was raking it all up and moving it over to the trailer for future disposal on the burn pile. We were just about done when his ride came. We had not started moving any block and he was disappointed. He should not be, the trumpet vine looks amazing and the trellis has been needing a repair for three years it all looks amazing! He was able to calculate his pay accurately and with very little stall time. When he first started he kept messing it up, but when I told him I would under pay him if his math was bad he started to realize that those pesky things they teach you in school really do have some value in the real world. He gets it right every time now. We even use nearest 15 minute rounding rules.
Mr Professional and I started in on the blocks and did the short end. We were getting ready to work on the long end when Annmarie came home. He went out to do more honey do chores as she had brought mineral and feed supplements that needed to be distributed. I finished dumping more gravel out into the yard for the wall. Annmarie did not like the small triangle wedge of air you could see when you looked over the railing. I did not buy any capstone. We discussed this for a while and then Mr Professional and I went to Walmart to try and find some pavers on sale. Someone had purchased all of the pavers and none were left. We then went to Home Depot store in Hermiston. We did find the topper block and figured out what sizes were needed but getting someone to come help us did take quite a bit of perseverance. While Mr Professional watched the employees load our block I went around and looked at plants. I bought two small Monterey Cypress trees to turn into Bonzai trees. I also bought some more planters so I could create a bunch of starts from my spider plants. They are out of control and the Jade plant cuttings were a big hit so I thought I would do it again. I did remember to get eggs and the sheep and cows are in the barn lot. I am hopeful that the little boy we singled off yesterday and trapped in Alcatraz will not holler all night again. It usually doesn’t bother me but I had to shut the bedroom windows and it still took another hours to go to sleep the cows were so noisy.
Thursday was the day it all came together, literally. Mr Professional came out and we poured concrete into the bridge footings. Nine cubic yards all mixed on site and shoveled into the concrete blocks. I realize this doesn’t sound very impressive but trust me if you were the one shoveling or mixing the concrete you would know that it is a lot of concrete to do at one time.
We did the half closest to the house first. Early on we figured out that we might not have enough concrete mix so we started adding gravel to the mixer to stretch it out, we gained about 30% more concrete which was just enough to finish the entire job. My helper had to go run some errands during the mid day so I took a nap in the pickup after minimart lunch and then slept for another 30 minutes on the hallway floor. The ceramic tile is very cool and if you are overheated it will suck the heat right out of your body. It is a little hard but life is about trade offs and the cool down experience is what I was hoping to accomplish.
We started back up after we moved power, the hose and the mixer to the other side of the spring. We thought about using the tractor again to move the mixer but just ended up manhandling it the 20 feet across the water ditch. I have even decided that I am going to get some sun and set a timer for one hour and went shirtless. My plan is to do that every day I am outside. I don’t want to get burnt but I feel better with more sun. I realize that the long sleeve shirt and scarf and hat are necessary if I want to stay out all day in the sun.
On the uphill side we decided to go with a solid wall as the upper hillside area is putting more pressure on the wall. The bridge is just over five feet wide. My actual bridge that floated off is only four feet wide but since I was the only one who could get the four foot wide tractor over the four foot wide bridge it needs that extra one foot. Once Tex tried to dump the tractor into the spring by missing the bridge it had an extra railroad tie added. That will be even worse now as they will drop down over a concrete wall.
I won’t set the bridge for 3-4 days to let the concrete cure. I will be starting in on the fence next. It will be a joy to try and dig holes in the middle of summer. I see myself starting a bunch of holes and filling them all with water and letting it soak in for a few hours and drilling and water and repeat until I can get deep enough to set a post. I am going to create anchors on each side of the fence by making large rock cribs and then just cow panels down to and over the water. This way during a flood the cow panels can float up wards after the water pushes out the staples. The water will even be able tear out the fence posts next to the spring. This will result in me only losing a single post on each side of the water. This amount of damage is very easy to fix. Redoing the entire fence 30 feet back from the water because the woven wire fence held and it sequentially ripped out every railroad tie attached to that piece of wire, not cool.
I had a very nice surprise as my department staff at work sent me out two bags full for a care package. I have already started eating the candy and jerky and drinking the coffee! It was a very thoughtful gift and I am very appreciative. Even more so that everyone is allowing me the time away from work. That gift is the most needed. Someone offered Annmarie the choice to extend my time off a little longer, she told them that I would be ready on day 43 to return to work!! I am definitely disrupting the routine at home. I love her very much and know very few women who would put up with me. Always marry your betters, the best advice I can ever give to another human being. They will make you a better person.
Yes, I am committed to seeing this through and will be doing the Forever Friday theme for another 29 days! On the plus side I am making progress on the farm and it is starting to show. I have high hopes for getting the fence in the orchard fixed in the next ten days. That is one of the four essential tasks that needed to happen during this rest and relaxation period.
Tuesday was my errand day. I went to town and took care of a bunch of stuff. The best part of the day was after I came home and took a two hour nap! It was the first nap during my 12 days off. It felt great and I was still able to go to sleep on time and wake up the next morning just before my alarm.
We have company, dear friends, coming on Friday so this morning was spent cleaning up around the house. Mr Professional came out to help and will be here tomorrow also. We cleaned up all the bags and trash from the lavender area, installed edging along the lavender field, put away all the tools and I killed more thistles. We then moved more trash out of the yard, cleaned off the front porch, and even cut the hole in the top of the bathroom vanity. We moved the vanity to the breeze porch where I will be giving it a heavy coat of butcher block oil/bees wax treatment. As soon as I can get every field replanted this fall we are hitting the upstairs bathroom hard to get it finished. We need two bathrooms!!
Mr Professional and I got the second bridge footing installed today! The first one has all the rebar it needs and the second one has about 50% of the rebar installed. We will start pouring cement first thing in the morning!! I kept telling him that this side was a lot easier to dig. We never had to use the breaker bar or pull out a single big rock or break a rock in half with the breaker bar. It was easy digging. Tomorrow we should be able to get all the concrete poured and the rest of the wall on the barn side finished. We will just wait for a few days before trying to install the bridge. Once the bridge is in place I will put the auger on the tractor and we start drilling fence holes!!
There was a slight delay today when I noticed the bull out eating on the hay pile with the alpaca. He had jumped down into the spring ditch and pushed his way through the fence crossing. We will now have to install some cable across the railroad ties to keep him from lifting the panels. He is way too smart. Unfortunately for him, he likes apples and by the time I figured out what he had done he was walking toward me and the apple tree. I picked a couple of apples, gave him one when he came into the pasture and when he went through the gate gave him another then locked him out of the crossing until we can get it fixed.
Before headed in for the night I went out and checked our packages the UPS driver dropped off. My punch pins had arrived so I went over to the manure spreader and punched out the gear pin! Unfortunately, now I need a gear puller…
Well the body parts brothers came out for a second helping of work. It’s always a crap shoot after the first day on whether they will return. Mr Nose looked pretty worn out upon arrival and was contemplating whether he should even exit the vehicle. I was dragging a little after digging so much in the barn and still had to finish breakfast, eggs and an English muffin with a side of extra coffee. So I had the boys start digging up thistles and weeds in the yard and on the front hillside. Annmarie wanted all the weeds gone so it was a win for all of us.
I had to let the dogs out the front door and spotted Mr Nose sleeping on the bridge, not digging weeds. The odd part is Mr Ears was just ignoring him and chopping weeds. This is what makes working siblings so hard, you never know how they will interact until you work with them. When Mr Nose heard the front door open he jumped up off of the bridge but it was too late, gig was up. I finished my coffee and then went outside. They both were working on the front hillside when I approached. I opened the dialogue with Mr Nose by saying that he was sleeping. A few excuses were started but I just cut him off saying none were relevant. Before I had a chance to dock his pay for the first hour he offered up the no pay solution on his own. I did tell him I was not his mother and if he wanted to sleep or take a nap he just needed to tell me so the pay clock could stop and he could have his beauty rest. I agreed to the dock in pay and then had him work on mowing the yard, and taking trash from chicken coop, yard, lavender area out to the dumpster I had delivered. It is time to get the fall cleanup accomplished and that usually requires a few dumpsters worth of stuff to go away. When he was done with that it was back to more weed chopping. I checked on him several times to keep him going. Next week he will need to finish picking up the trash as his teenage vision seems to be impaired. Not really a big deal as the entire dumpster was already full, it got emptied on Friday so it is ready for a refill. I will say he was a champ when it came time to mow the lawn.
Mr Ears and I went down to the front spring in the barn lot to lay in some blocks. I want to line the bottom of the waterway with the newly acquired solid blocks and then rebuild the stair step sides so that the animals can always get to clean water. This required a lot of raking and digging out the hidden rocks in the spring bed. I worked on the entrance V while Mr Ears worked on the stream bed floor. I stacked the blocks and drove rebar down through them. I probably should have filled with concrete but that is a lot of work, added expense and if I do this right and back fill with rocks it should hold even if the water flows over the top of them.
Just before lunch Mr Ears informed me that I had a praying mantis on my hat. I ignored him and kept working, if he had not said anything I would never have known about the praying mantis. This disturbed him to no end, he mentioned it three more times! When the mantis tried to come over the brim of the hat and I could spot it, I reached up and helped it down to the ground. He seemed relieved that I no longer had a crawling insect on my person. We managed to get the “V” completed prior to lunch then the boys went to sit in the yard and eat their lunches.
After lunch Mr Ears and I went back out to and started back in on the block wall. I did the right hand side (completed wall side) and Ears did the other. He rebuilt the two levels he did at least four times. We had to discuss level and compacting and how he kept overdigging. I finally went with the mantra “put more gravel then you think is necessary” line in an attempt to get him to get the correct block height. This helped when the 20 yards of gravel I ordered were delivered! I made three trips to get loose gravel and bring it down to where we were working. We started to run out of block as I wanted to carry the steps all the way under the bridge. I am also going to make rectangle concrete footings for the bridge. They won’t wash away in a flood and I can just drop the bridge back in place after it floats away. I will need about another 160 blocks, some 40 bags of Sakrete, some rebar and I may even use a level. In an effort to see where we were and how many more blocks were needed we finished lining the stream bed. We will need a hole dug at the end of the block so we can scoop water off the bridge in the winter when watering the momma/babies, Mr ears started in on the watering hole.
There was a slight issue at the end of the day when we calculated the pay and handed out cash. Mr Nose was not sure I was doing the math correctly. He was less than impressed to learn that he did not get paid for lunch time and then he did not get paid for his hour of sleeping. He seemed mollified once it was explained.
I have them scheduled to return on Monday. My plan is to buy supplies and get the rest of the hay this weekend. We will see how they do on Monday.