Kitchen cabinet redo, courtesy of the wife and daughters

Annmarie and the girls have been working on the kitchen cupboards. They are stripping and repainting them. We knew this was going to be a very labor intensive job and have been putting it off for a few years. We bought paint samples and even painting the cupboards in places to compare colors and get the right ones. We wanted to bring out the colors in the backsplash and countertop. They have been working on it for three weeks now. The cupboard doors are almost ready to prime and paint. We just have a little stubborn paint at the 90 degree on the door side that would stop the doors from fully closing so I need to get it out. I think I will have to take a razor blade knife to get it out easily.

Annmarie has been diligently working on it. The paint stripper is citrus based but it still gives me a headache when they use it. After a few coats of that and scraping it off they sand it down. Annmarie has been doing the inside and Monica has been concentrating on the doors outside. We have some sawhorses and an awning set up outside to work under. It is slow and methodical work and they are all doing a great job. We have all new hardware, hinges, magnetic latches, door knobs and pulls. I have been informed that I will be doing the hardware install. But honestly, I am getting the best deal possible when it comes to this job. Once the second set of cupboards are done then we will pull out the fridge and do the lower cabinets and the little cabinet over the fridge at the same time. This will mean no ice maker for the duration of that time! This is a painful prospect when it is 109F.

The amazing part is our back runoff creek is still running even though we have had record high temperatures all week. I don’t think it will last another week as it has really lowered this last week. The puppy, chance had to go to the vet because she started peeing every three minutes! Turns out she has some kind of fecal infection from something she ate out here. We tried to make a list but it was fairly disgusting so we just chalk it up to her being a puppy and her gut needs to toughen up. We are treating it with antibiotics and she is doing much better. Gizmo had to go to the vet also four days earlier for a bloody nose and unceasing sneezing. He had a piece of cheat grass up in his sinus cavity. They got it all out and after a few days on steriods he does not even snore any more! He is also doing great.

New office started

Today we decided to tackle the new office remodel in the old house. It is too cold to be outside! We are predicted to get snow in the next two days but the wind off of the snow covered mountains is brutal. This is perfect weather for ripping out the interior walls. You could even take your coat off and keep the long sleeve wear on as long as you kept working. If you stopped it got cold again, this is good incentive to stay busy. Mr Professional offered the suggestion to tear out the walls in what used to be the old bathroom. I liked the idea and since we needed to tear down the inside walls anyways we did it. It is pretty easy to reverse and hard to see without actually doing it. I liked it. I went inside and had Annmarie come out and give her blessing. She wants to use the little room for the 3D printer and the laser engraver. This will actually work well and let the main room be used for an office and sitting area. She wants to put in a couple of chairs/loveseat with a coffee table so she can use it when privacy is needed. It will work out very nice. We took measurements for two new windows and we are going to remove the window in the equipment nook to maximize storage space.

Mr Professional and I had a long discussion about what to do about the knot holes and leaking joints on the outside of the house. We are not going to re-side the outside for at least 3 years so it needs to last for a while. We found some nontoxic plastic paint/roofing material we can paint onto the inside walls to keep the moisture away. We looked at spray in foam insulation but that was going to cost $1300 for 900 sq feet of spray. I can get a five gallon container of plastic elastic paint for $240. So we are going to go with the paint on ourself option. It is looking like a couple of windows and two doors are going to cost over $2k. The real expense is going to be if I have to buy more wire to wire the building. I have about 2/3 of a large roll of 12/2 with ground and I am going to use every leftover outlet and switch from every job I have ever done, so I believe there is some gray, brown, taupe, and white colored accessories. The heating/cooling system is going to be around $4k. I am hoping to get the entire thing done for around $12k. We spent a combined 13 hours working on it today. I am going to try and keep track of all the time we spend on it. We also figured out how to move the power box into the attic so it is not visible on the room side and it still meets code by having the front cleared space! Huge win for everyone.

Mouse is totally got the nighttime chores down. I just let him out and walk down to the end of the ram pasture and he is already out and circling the sheep in field #4 and pushing them back into the barn lot. He is liking working the sheep. One of the cows we pushed into the corral on Friday caught him on the left side of his face with their rear foot and scalped a streak of hair off the middle of his head. So he was a reverse mohawk. I took pity on him and cleaned the mud/poop hoof shape off of his face. He is a trooper and is not letting it slow him down.

Zeke the dog, the myth, the legend

This was the last week of Zeke’s life. He was 10.5 years old and our very first Border Collie. He was free, which makes it even better. We had never trained a sheep dog before or owned a border collie but we figured we could watch enough videos and read enough books to get it done. We did get it done, but there were some hiccups along the way.

We tried to socialize him early when he was a puppy by taking him out into the barn that first winter. This did not work out so well for him, as one of the ewes took an instant distaste to him and proceeded to stomp on him or roll him every chance she got. Zeke took this personally and he remembered her until the day we got rid of her due to old age. If given the chance he would single her out of the herd just to chase her down and drag her to the ground. He did not ever forget that grudge. This philosophy was his life, if all went well and you treated him well, he treated you well. If you made his life miserable, he was not going to forget. The older he got the harder he was to take to the vet. He would snub all treats and growl at everyone whenever we took him in.

We did train him to work the sheep and eventually even the cows although he loved working the sheep more than the cows. The only real problem with his training was that it ended up becoming the R rated version of a working sheep dog’s commands. You could not have little kids within 1/2 mile of hearing range of me working the dog. He did great but he expected a certain kind of criticism while he was working and if he did not get it then that meant he could do whatever he wanted. Luckily, we are in the middle of a large open area and don’t have any close neighbors.

He had torn out a knee and was retired from animal working although he managed to work the sheep twice in his last week. I buried him in a rock cairn at the very top of the farm property. He is next to our chocolate lab. The view is spectacular and I think that I would like my ashes/compost (we have not decided which yet) up here with the dogs so I can look over the farm and wish everyone well and watch over the place. He will be missed.

We are going to wait until early summer to get a replacement. It seems soon but our other dog is 5 years old and it takes about 2-3 years to get a dog trained up well. If they are only able to work until about age 9 then that does not give us much time. Mouse also needs eye medicine to keep him from going blind so he might not make it to the 9 year mark. Zekee proved how invaluable a dog is to us when it comes to moving the farm animals around. We will never not have one as long as we have cows/sheep.

Staycation 88% completed

This week the weather has improved dramatically so the priorities have had to change a little. I wanted to get projects done that set up Mr Professional so he can come out and work alone when I am back to work. So lots of organizing, sorting and cleaning up has been happening. On Wednesday morning we sorted the sheep and pulled off the rest of the lambs. Not sure why I didn’t think of that the first time, but problem solved. We moved all the lambs but three over into the orchard pasture to hang out. I thought we only had three in with the ewes, we spotted a fourth one that evening when we were feeding, a little boy snuck past, he must have been hidden in a mass of ewes. The grass in that pasture is over eight inches tall and needs something to start eating it down so I don’t have to mow it. We want the babies close as they have a tendency to disappear due to predators. We let Zeke, our old border collie push the lambs through the yard into the orchard, he was very happy. All he did was walk up to them and lay down. He has been laying around a lot lately and has started not eating all of his meals. We are going to switch him to soft food to attempt to encourage him to eat. He is probably not going to make it through this year.

We went out to the machine shed and sorted through the piles of scrap wood we got a couple of years ago. It was leftovers we got for a steal and had it delivered right to the house which made it even a better deal. We are now starting to dig through and use the material for various projects around the house. But it was taking up space in the machine shed and we are going to make the old chicken coop the storage area. So we sorted out the junk. Sorted out the stuff we would use once for concrete forms, which are now stored outside the chicken coop and tarped, under the eaves, so we can have easy access to it when needed. We even kept the subflooring sheets and oak plywood sheets separately in the chicken coop so we can use them for the old house. The old bathroom is going to be Annmarie’s office storage room and it will get oak plywood flooring. The floors are slanted and will need to be leveled. The old kitchen, soon to be freezer room, will need to get leveled also but it will just be 3/4” subflooring and 1/2” plywood sheeting on it. We will just be sanding down the original floor like we did in our upstairs rooms in the house.

I took the time to brush the horse. She is shedding something fierce and without another horse buddy to help her groom she needs some assistance. I have brushed her twice this vacation and Sarah brushed out the dogs when she was home so everyone looks pretty good. We came into the house and took out the old TV stand. It is very heavy but Annmarie reminded us we have the shoulder furniture movers so we found those and it made moving the stand an easy thing. I moved the new chest into its spot after cleaning the floor and doing some cord management stuff to organize the electrical mess. Annmarie wants us to use a piece of plastic channel to contain all of the TV cords to make it neater. When that comes we will install it, it does look a lot nicer with the cords contained.

Mr Professional got the side by side up and running in under five minutes. This is without the battery being plugged in. Adding that large deep cycle battery under the driver’s seat was just what we needed to keep the thing going. A dead battery all the time is highly annoying.

The small stuff I ordered for the tractor came this week. The speed handle is installed! This should just come standard on every tractor, I am unsure why they don’t. There are a couple of tool racks that will hold a chain between them now mounted behind the seat on the roll bar. The chain is actually in one spot now not tied down to some random piece of the tractor. The quick hitch is now installed and I have filled the ballast box with horseshoes. So now the Kubota has pallet forks on the front and a ballast box on the back with several hundred pounds of steel in it. It feels a lot better when you are carrying something heavy on the front.

We let the new alpaca out of the orchard thinking that everyone seemed to be getting along. The old adage that fences make great neighbors is still true. By that afternoon Mad Max had the young brown one pinned to the ground and was screaming in his ear. I tried to holler at them to get them to stop but no go. I went over and encouraged him to get off of the baby and strained my right knee. He did not initially take the hint. The alpaca can be very stubborn or determined, depending on how you look at it. We watched them for a while and all seemed to be copacetic. The next morning when I went outside there was more fighting. I went out and chased away the offenders but I could only find the two new young white alpaca and only counted ten. Which meant that the young brown one was missing, but Mad Max was present but one of our other old brown alpaca was missing. I had to walk all the way down to the end of the driveway and found the poor little alpaca pinned to the ground and the older one on top grinding into him. I had to chase him off with my coffee cup as a tool, my knee still hurts so no kicking. When I got back to the now 12 alpaca I wanted to put the three babies back into the orchard with the lambs. But they kept walking away from me. So instead when I opened the gate the seven older ones bum rushed the open gate and went into the orchard. So now the new animals are outside the fence and the old grumpy men are stuck in the orchard. Mad Max is now with the young ones but he has not been any trouble since the split. So now Annmarie asked me if I verified the gender on all three new alpaca. I did not do that. So now we need to verify that we did not end up with a female as we really do not want any cria.

On Thursday we got the side by side ready to spray. I put the first 30 gallons of round up through just spraying our road and driveway down. The only bad part about roundup is it takes at least a week before you can tell something was sprayed and two weeks for it to totally die. We cleaned out the tank and Mr Professional sprayed field #5 & 5A with 2-4-D & Milestone to kill the broadleafs, the thistles are already starting to spread. Unfortunately, the flood from two years ago changed the direction of the creek and one of the tall banks is seriously undercut. We have probably already lost eight feet of hillside and may lose another eight feet. If we lose that total 16’ I will have to move the fence. There is a very large curve in the creek now. We finished cleaning up and tossing everything onto the burn pile. I will need to get that burned again in the next month.

The big push now will be to get the spray onto all of the hay fields. We need to do this as soon as possible and then once that is done we can start fixing the fence down by four corners. As soon as that fence is done then it will be repairs on the hay baler and getting all the tractors tuned up and oil changed so everything is ready for haying season. We will be getting the barns cleaned out also so we have a place to put the new good hay.

Fooled me

The old black alpaca fooled me into letting him in through the side gate so he could get back into the orchard. He had been wandering on the back hillside alone for days then came down and sat by the orchard gate. I was out feeding the song birds and he kept hooting and mewing at me until I went over and let him through, Annmarie reminded me that all the gates were open and all he needed to do was just go downstream and walk through them. He was on the back hillside all alone wandering around just like the day before in a matter of hours.

The cows got out of their enclosure on Friday, last week. I spotted them from the living room window. It was almost time to go out and do evening chores but I knew that was too much work for me so I snuck out of the house without telling anyone. I took the dogs and we headed up to get the cows. Annmarie had opened a gate to give them more space and a side gate was open allowing them to get on the back hillside. Zeke and Mouse got them back in the correct field. I only had to walk straight up the bottom field hollering nonstop at the dogs. Mouse works for AnnMarie way better than he does for me but we got it done. When I turned around to come back Annmarie was at the gate watching me and waiting to castigate me for not telling her the cows were out and allowing her to help. I told her the dogs and I were capable of getting the cows in. She still had to do the evening chores and get eggs.
The chewed up chicken croaked. It will now get a trip to the boneyard. I thought it was gonna make it, as they usually die within the first 24 hours.
Mr Professional came out and fed the cows the same day. He even moved the dog house that was still sitting on the trailer to down by my mother-in-law’s. The cats will appreciate is. He put it under the porch in the back yard. I will need to move it around to the side near the back door leading up the stairs, but it will have to wait until I have some energy.