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.
Mr Professional had a major score this week, we was working on a different project and spotted a pile of solid concrete blocks and bricks for sale in Pendleton. He messaged me as I am always on the lookout for a great deal and you never know when you might need a large load of brick and blocks. We got the whole thing for $250, about 20,000 lbs of block and brick! It took us two loads with the pickup and trailer and a paltry seven hours to load both loads and unload the first load. At midnight when we got home we had already moved 30k pounds of block and I was done, I was not going to move any more block. Two more attempts got all the brick and block neatly stacked at our house and ready for a project. I am going to use some of the block to make a concrete waterway in the barn lot. I will use the blocks to line the bottom of the spring where it goes between the cinder block stairs so the animals will have access to clean running water and no weeds will build up where they drink. I am also thinking about a brick archway leading to our house out by the cars. This will let me put in a custom gate and anchor it to the brick pillar which will be filled with concrete and rebar. This is a future plan and is way behind many others that need to happen first.
I have spent the last two Sundays picking blackberries. You can tell that some of our plants are in with the animals as they clean up the bushes. This works well for me as there is not a lot of bending over to pick blackberries. The first Sunday I was able to get 2 gallons off of the first bush. Today I had to pick 3 quarts on the first bush and go up and pick the other five on two other bushes. We have enough for 12 pies and I froze some in little snack packs for Annmarie to use in her breakfast smoothie, raw egg, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, Greek vanilla yogurt.
Annmarie has started to clean up our alpaca fiber. She is picking the organic matter, weeds, out of the fleece so we can send it off for processing. It will cost us $25/lb to have it processed into yarn. She is shaking the dirt out and pulling out the hair mats. She is not the only one who appreciates the alpaca fiber. Gizmo thinks it is quite soft and has been trying to steal parts of it to use in making up his bed. He sleeps inside a deep hole in the yard that Mouse dug and he managed to steal some scraps and drag them into his hole. Here he just plopped down on the fiber to be cleaned. We are packaging it in large vacuum bags so we can get the bulk down and try and only ship it as weight. The fleece takes up a large amount of space even though it is not very heavy. So far we have not had to use the vacuum on the bags yet but I am hoping to get 4-6 fleeces into each bag. I would like to send 20# boxes. We will see how it goes, as it takes her about three hours for each fleece and we have about 20-23 to process. She has done four in the last week after she made the skirting table.
I tried to go up to the old barley field that I cut last week and rake it for hay. No go, I spent almost two hours trying to rake it to get a pile I could run the baler over and only ended up with two rows. It is not worth the effort and I just quit. We will go up and kill the entire field so it can be turned over and cleaned up and replanted this fall. I want to replant field number 4 also and part of 3. I need to go buy grass seed soon as everyone always runs out by late fall.
I did get all new tires for the flatbed trailer and will be picking up hay. I also got two new tires for the horse trailer as the spare was flat and another one blew up with the trailer parked on one of our 105 degree days. I was going to get the new tractor rim changed over but it turns out they sold me a 15” rim and I needed a 12” rim so I will be taking that back. The tire shop also managed to get a oil change done on the pickup at the same time!