I have been working on getting the front porch done. I promised Annmarie that I would stop fencing, even though the weather is still good, to get the front porch finished. We have the stair railings and the the front porch gates still to complete. Now I did not install any of the railing, Mr Professional did so I felt like he needed to be present for the hand rails. He has been busy and unavailable but I managed to get him to come over for a few hours on Friday and Saturday. It was a good thing I waited for him. When I decided on upright 4×4 placement I did it to minimize the Trex cuts on the stair pieces. I did not know that according to the instructions you should put the support posts on the outer edge of the stairs. This is so that you can use the preset angles that Trex calculated for the stair railing 32-37 degrees. Since this little fact was overlooked for design and aesthetic reasons installing the stair railing was much more complicated than normal.
Using the template that was provided caused the railing to be too high and not match the porch railing. So we tried to alter the template. This did not result in the railings lining up. So then we tossed out the template and eye fitted the bottom railing in and marked the spots for the anchors. Once we had the bottom railing in and upright tubes in we had to cut the top railing but it was going to not fit correctly, the bottom post was too short for the angle. We had to use the Dewalt bandsaw. This is the single tool I did not want to buy this summer, and it has turned out to be essential when dealing with metal. We never could have gotten the rails cut correctly and even in place. We took the cut top rail, held it next to the poles and I used green tape to set the angle then just cut along the tape. It worked very well but it took us about eight hours to get two rails installed correctly and not cut my power cable to the two light poles as I ran the wires up the railing side. This would have been totally on me had we caught a wire. We reached down and stretched the wire tight in an attempt to move it out of the way when screwing in the railing anchors.
The gates that we are going to install are aluminum and have to measured and cut. We measured and cut them and then put them together, after tearing them apart twice we go them together correctly. The instruction sheet has eight steps and fits on one side of a normal piece of paper and has lots of pictures. They failed to tell you that the side pieces have to be held down as you predrill the holes or else the cover piece will not snap into place correctly, even if you use a file to knock it down. Also they failed to mention that you should use the silver screws that will be hidden under the trim and use the black colored ones for the corner angle pieces that are exposed. I now need to get some 3/4” black enamel sheet metal screws. So the gates are on hold until that happens.
We may have lost our bunny rabbits. We had two and have not seen a single one for over six weeks. They could have eaten hay out of the machine shed all winter so they could not die of starvation no matter how severe the weather. I think hanging around the machine shed may have been the cause of their demise as the owls like to hang out in there at night also.
Due to the amount of repairs and welding I have been doing I am going to rearrange the last bay in the machine shed. I am going to move all of the flammables away and move work benches so I can weld out of the rain inside the shop. This is a winter project. I need to finish getting the rest of the power and lights wired also. We are using the shop more and need to be able to do it in all kinds of weather.
As you can see I am hard at work raking the leaves with the same mower I use for the lawn. They have been in the yard all weekend. I put the dogs on the run and let the sheep in. The dogs don’t particularly like this arrangement and you cannot let our ankle biter dog out as Gizmo likes to ball the sheep up in a corner also. He thinks he is all tough and fails to realize that the big dogs have conditioned them to canine pressure.
Well I did the welding thing again. I think the most frustrating thing about the welding is I don’t have a nice clean stash of spare metal. This is a issue that requires some more welding! I am thinking about converting a header trailer into a metal storage building. So what I do now is dig through one of three scrap metal piles until I find a few pieces of metal I think will work, clean them up with the grinder and then wire brush them. I do use a battery powered grinder (thank you DeWalt) to clean them up. Mr Professional said I needed a battery powered circular band saw (yes, it’s a DeWalt) this summer and I bought it. It is the bomb! It was so easy to cut the angle iron and flat iron pieces, and when I failed to measure the T shaped opening on the old tractor weights and welded two pieces of angle iron together that were too wide I was able to slice off an entire edge with ease. I built the supports tall enough to hold two weights at each spot, 50#/each and left room for me to drill a hole and slap a pin through so the weights cannot bounce or fall off. I was able to try it out on the driveway on Friday. It turned out very nice and the extra weight makes all the difference in getting the teeth to dig in a little instead of sitting on the surface of the dry ground. Our driveway is very smooth now! This was needed to finish dragging the last section of field #4. Once that is smooth then it can be planted. I still want to do the 1.5 acres down by where we feed the cows, I am going to call that field #5, the one across the creek #6 and then the far one #7. The orchard field, ram pasture and schoolhouse field will all have names. It must be time to make an index map again.
I spent Saturday morning working on getting our new porch pillar lights installed. This turned out to be a bigger hassle than I thought it would be considering I already had power installed under the porch. I installed a support brace behind the stairwell that makes it virtually impossible to crawl under the stairs. I was able to slip one arm and my head under and that was all. I had to install some jumpers and the 10’ extension wires I purchased which morphed into only 5’ extensions as I was incorrect in my assumption that 5’ was long enough. This caused me to have to install two more extra jumpers to build up the distance. I had to drill holes at the base of the 4×4 and then fish wires through. I installed the light sensor so it had just enough light from the sun to turn the lights off and on by photovoltaic switch. Annmarie sent me a picture after it got dark, I was at my paying job, and they worked! The only problem was when we woke up this morning the lights were off. I am hopeful that I messed up on my timer selection and that tonight when it gets dark the lights will come back on. The lights are 12v DC, and I had to dodge wasps the entire time as they were just dormant enough to hang onto the siding. I came into the house and grabbed hornet spray to kill them. The spray went down into the siding and for the next hour they kept coming out and trying to fall on me as I was working. So to expedite the process I started to smash them with the battery on the drill. I didn’t want to stick my hand or buttocks onto one that was dying but still alive enough to sting me.
While I was crawling in and out from underneath the porch I realized that there are enough blocks to complete the hypotenuse formed by the two sides of the house. This will help cover the opening near the house from our deck install and it will look good from the front of the house. Hopefully, this can get finished this week. We will see…
Well it’s midweek and I was able to get some work done at home. I had to juggle some things around as I will be covering shifts at work the rest of the week due to shortages and Covid. Mr Rainman has been working on getting field #1 ready to plant. He was able to disc yesterday and pick up rocks in the fairly nice part of the field. Today he spent four solid hours picking rocks only in about 1.5 acres and applying them to the new water berm I am building up there. I am trying to get the old berm back into shape and then build a secondary berm to stop any overflow or breakthroughs from flooding the entire field. It will take me about another two years to get it all done. I want it in place so when I plant alfalfa I won’t have to worry about the field getting flooded and ruined. He was able to get the entire field picked of rocks and all disced. I just need to go up there with the harrow and it will be ready to plant.
First thing this morning we took a couple of hours to clean off the old house porch. It was covered in tools from all our summer projects and the deck. We managed to get it all sorted, put away in old house or taken out to the machine shed. We even swept off the porch and took out the trash! I proceeded to swap out the rusted painted screws in the tin around our pillars. I had to scrub the rust away then install the new painted screws. I also cleaned up some of the old caulk around the pillars. I did caulk the bottom of the pillars but have ordered a plastic molding to go around the bottom of the large pillars so they match the 4×4 covers. I was informed tonight that I need to order some 1/4 round for the top of the pillars. I was just going to put white caulk at the top. I am told that won’t look as good, the plastic trim is a special order item so I will have to get that ordered.
After lunch I took 40 minutes and stripped the hair from our Brussels Griffin. He is a terrier and you have to pull their hair out instead of shaving them. He is used to it and just sits in my lap. He doesn’t really like it around his nose or lower legs. He is now super soft and cuddly. Annmarie got the John Deere tractor tire repaired again. They installed the tire on backwards last time so we had to get them to turn it around. We installed the tire and hooked up the planter/seeder to the little tractor. I ended up having to replace one tooth on the cultivator that was broken. It had two different hay strings wrapped around it and some metal bailing wire and a piece of barbed wire! Those all got removed and the equipment adjusted so it merely needs seed in the hopper and its ready to plant! We are supposed to get 1/2” of rain on this upcoming Friday & Saturday. I will be working so no time will be lost due to the weather. I found a hydraulic leak on the new tractor but do not have a metric wrench that big, so I will need to buy some more tools, dang. The sheep have still not had any more babies.
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.