I need a break

Annmarie spotted another random newborn lamb yesterday evening. This morning Tex and I went out into the ram pasture and Tex snagged the newborn. I could of done it but it ran to his side of the field! We took it to the barn so I could tag and band it. I even remembered to enter it into the Airtable spreadsheet so we could track it.

Afterwards we went to install the culvert in the orchard. We had to dig out the bottom of the channel by hand and had to put it in a couple of times to fit test it prior to back filling it in. I was able to use the old dirt and then drag down the edges. We even rocked in the inlet side of the culvert. I can now get the tractor over to the other side of the ditch.

We were able to move the pipe trailer out of the field and snagged all the loose pipe laying about. We moved the pipe trailer out of the fields over near the wheat field then proceeded to clean up the scrap metal piles. We tossed the metal over the fence so the scrap metal guy can pick it up on his next visit.

I had to go to town to get more diesel for the tractor. We were running on fumes. I had Tex go use the chainsaw on the downed trees at the spring head. I also wanted him to trim the tree touching the old chicken coop. After lunch, we took the now filled tractor over to drag out the downed trees. Between the chain saw and the tractor we got all the dead massive limbs piled up into a large burn pile. Hopefully, next week we can light it on fire. Annmarie ran the horses in the round pen yesterday but I had put it on the soft dirt. The horses tore it up something fierce. So I will need to move it next week. We have plenty of spots for it.

After she got back from church we went out to work on the front hillside and started to set up the water system so we can start growing clover. We were able to reuse some of the aluminum uprights from the main sprinkler system, along with the valves and sprinkler heads. We keep trying to reuse as much stuff as we can. I also got a large piece of Elm for the anvil. I will need to make some custom holders for it. My plan is to get it attached and then use it whenever I need to beat something into submission. I realized that the only thing I don’t really have yet is a portable grinder. So after I get that I will dress up the anvil.

I had Tex fill in gravel in the ditch behind the machine shop. I will need to finish it off this week. The rest of our hay equipment should arrive this week. We will be able to store it in the machine shed now! We did park the tractor in the shop tonight. It is an amazing thing.

I am done! I am so tired that I started losing my grip while working on the sprinkler system. I will be taking it easy next week. I am thinking about working on the bathroom upstairs. More thought than muscle.

Machine shed joy

Yesterday was very productive, having Tex come out and help has really allowed us to take on some projects that had just been getting pushed to the side. We started the day by tagging and banding cows. Now mind you we knew there were three babies that needed to be tagged but until we catch them we don’t know their gender. Last time Annmarie did the tractor trick and they came out of the lower pasture to follow the tractor. This time she and Tex went outside and then I did the dishes. I saw the cows up on the back hillside so I ambled on out to the tractor with my coffee in hand and proceeded to drive up the back hillside. I figured the cows would follow the tractor. I proceeded to drink a lot of coffee on my way up the hillside. Well as soon as I got on top of the hill the cows started running in the opposite direction away from the tractor. Cell phones might sound like a great communication device but after the third time your wife calls you when you are supposed to be helping move cattle its time to ignore the phone. As soon as the cows heard the tractor they ran back down to the gate I always bring food in through!! Who is stupid now? By the time I got down off the hill I had just enough time to open the barn lot gate and they pushed the cows inside. We had them sorted in under 10 minutes. It took me about five minutes to get both testicles on the larger calf into the rubber band device. The calf kept peeing on me. I persevered but after 220 lambs I am a lot better at them. I have only done 18 steers and I messed up the first three.

We sorted off the cows to sell this fall. There was supposed to be two, there were three. So now I have to sell one more cow and Annmarie has convinced me we need to use her shared spreadsheet app she made in Airtable. We need to be able to keep track of days born and how many we have on hand. She inputted all three new calves into the system. We have sorted them off and they are now in the upper prime field. It has lots of green grass and running water. They are not happy about being sorted off of their mothers. We will have 7 cows for sale next year. We will finally have our numbers up.

I had to go to town and pickup gates for the front of the machine shop. I had to buy multiple sizes to get them to fit right as I cannot adjust the opening of the shop. I had to buy 10 gates for around $800. The 50 yards of gravel cost around $900, four days of labor cost around $600. Not to shabby for an incredibly useful space and a lot of it!!

We had to alternate attaching gates inside the opening or outside depending on whether we needed to fill in space or use less. We even managed to get most of them to match. Its hard to believe that they are on a slant from the left side to the right. I spent some time and spread out the rest of the gravel. While I did that Tex mounted 6 sheets of plywood into the hay area. We don’t want the hay scraps to fall back into the cleaned out area. He go six sheets up and I need to go buy six more to finish the wall separating the hay area and the rest of the shop.

While we were hanging gates Annmarie was taking a nap! I spotted the evidence that evening when I came inside. I was incredibly jealous. Tex also cleaned up all the junk behind the machine shed and dug out a drainage ditch. We will get it filled with gravel in the next week or so. This should help the moisture inside the shop also.

Machine shed madness

I remembered to order gravel for the machine shed on Thursday. I ordered 50 yards of gravel, 5 dump trucks. I had them dump a load in front of each bay opening. Sarah was coming out anyways so I had her go around and drag metal salvage to the scrap pile. We have The Scrapper out and he is taking it all away. I thought we had gotten most of the scrap but every time I say that we find another 5 plus ton of metal. He is keeping track of the amount hauled away and we are striking a deal for the old tires to vanish and maybe get some new tin roofing that he salvaged. I help load the big pieces of metal with the tractor or he uses his winch.

We also had another small dumpster brought out and have filled it once from the machine shop. We are going to cut up all the old plastic fencing and pull it out of the concrete rounds from the old vinyl fence. The vinyl will go into the dumpster and the concrete will go somewhere, I am not sure where yet. Sarah scooped up gravel and spread out piles throughout the four open bays. She was very careful as I told her if she hit a support post the roof would fall on her. Now that might have been a slight exaggeration but the likelihood of a board falling on her head was high!! She was very careful and did not hit any beams. When I got home I helped load the scrap metal then dumped the bucket off of the tractor and just used the box blade to spread out all of the gravel. It is a lot easier to move around inside the building with no loader on the front. After a couple of hours I had it all spread out.

When Tex comes out on Friday we will move the pile of stuff we are saving and I will get that last bay filled in and leveled off. Then it is just a matter of purchasing and installing gates. I got an email to contact the shipping company as my hay equipment is on its way!! Finished just in time.

Machine Shed Mania

It was another incredible day with lots of satisfaction. Tex and I started out by burning the wood pile, it was very large and took about 2 hours to completely burn up as it was impregnated with lots of petroleum products of the last 80 years. We then finished cleaning out the right hand side of the shed. I was hoping to salvage a few of the wooden cabinets or shelves that were in the back right corner. Unfortunately, water is leaking from the back of the building under the stem wall and soaking the ground causing a lot of wood rot in all of the cabinets. I was only able to salvage one metal cabinet.

We then drug out all the dirt until the concrete pillars were all exposed. You can see that they built the shed with an inherent slant. When you take a tape measure and measure all the pillars they get progressively longer the farther you go to the right. Its amazing how much forethought went into some things they built.

After lunch, we have been eating from the deli at the minimart, we started in on the broken beam over one of the entrances. They used to just hang a chain over the beam and use a chain lift to hoist engines out of equipment. We opted to use an old beam we salvaged from the fuel storage area. The new beam was a little thicker than the old. We did a basic overlap joint then recut the old truss members. It was nice to reuse all old wood. Tex did the cosmetic repair to the outside while I started in on the upright beam repairs. I had him go get a weather 1×12 from the pile that has been out in the sun for a year. It blended quite nicely. It should not take it long to blend in.

We used a 20 ton jack and a 3×8 inch board that I kept cutting to length. Luckily, I inadvertently started on the tallest end so I just kept cutting the support board shorter as I moved across the front repairing beams. Each concrete pad has a 3/4 inch x 5 inch tall metal rod sticking out of the middle of the pad. So I cut the beam off at 6 inches and then drilled out the new spacer to go over the rod. There were some spare metal drilled flat stock laying on one of the shelves that I saved instead of tossing it in the scrap pile. I was not sure what I was going to use it for but I figured they would come in handy. One day later and I used four! The beams had to be pulled out away from the pad after jacking them up. We used the tractor to pull them out 6 inches. I love how flexible old wooden structures can be.

The patch material was slightly smaller but once we pulled the jack out the beams dropped down and are solid. All we need now is gravel and gates. I will order in 50 yards of 3/4- gravel this week and have them dump it in front of the machine shop. Once that is spread out I will install five matching gates over the front and it will be done. I may even decide to run some lights inside the building. If so that will happen late summer or fall.

Tex is missing

I made arrangements with Tex last week to come out again for the next three days. We need to get the machine shed cleaned out so we have a space for the hay equipment that is coming. I had to call the dealer on Monday and found out that our baler from Italy won’t be here until July most likely. This is obviously a problem as I need to start cutting hay in the next two weeks. The company is sending us a loaner at no cost to us. They will pay for the shipping to us and then back to them when ours shows up. It is hard to be upset when they have customer service like that. The CEO talked to me on the phone and he was a little surprised and happy at how reasonable I was being. I said it was easy when they were doing everything possible to make us happy and allow us to get our hay crop put up.

I made breakfast for Tex and I Friday morning but Tex did not show up. I resorted to taking a picture of the food and texting him. No answer. He never answered during the day. I went out and started in on the machine shed myself. That evening Tex did agree to come out on Saturday and Sunday. No body can be perfect and we all have flaws.

I started in on the machine shed. I figured if I just started sorting burnables, trash and scrap metal I could make some headway on cleanup. A couple of hours into it The Pickerman called and said he was going to come out and get a load of metal.

I called Meathead and had her come out and help me fill the trailer. She had a few hours left to put in this week so she finished her homework and came out to the house. We worked on getting all of the loose stuff out of the machine shed. We found a handful of items that can go to auction and the Pickerman will make that happen. We had the trailer filled by 1600 and off they went. She was very helpful and did a great job helping out.

I did get a text confirmation from Tex Friday night that he was coming out. The plan is to hit it hard on Saturday and maybe we can be done by Sunday.

It doesn’t look like we made a great deal of headway but we got a pickup load of burnables out, a trailer load of metal and a pile of keep stuff that I will need to find a home.

Spraying necessary

Sunday of this week Tex came out and finished fencing on the upper prime pasture. It needed wooden stays and to fix the spring crossing. He worked on that all day while the sheep continued to mow our front lawn.

I spent the day on the tractor trying to spray our upper middle field. It is growing gangbusters but it needs some weeds eradicated. I am only able to spray about a 6 foot swath at a time. I went to a fixed sprayer with no boom but the pump cannot keep the pressure up in the tank so it varies in its spray application rate. Its causing me enough problem that I have started to look back into a boom system. Luckily, I kept the 12 foot boom from the old four wheeler, I tossed it over by the metal scrap pile and never made it go away! I just need to mount it on the 55 gallon spray tank frame. Using that I can change out the size of the nozzles to control flow rates. I will be able to spray about 50% faster than I currently can.

I spent all day on the tractor and simply ran out of time. The middle prime field is done! There is about a half an acre of soggy ground in that field but the grass looks great.

Annmarie and I talked about it and I am going to dig a ditch to collect the water and make it run in a narrower channel. Hopefully, this will prevent it from forming fingers throughout the entire field.

I spent the next three weeknights after work trying to get the upper field sprayed. I found even more wet and muddy spots. There is about 1/3 of the field that I cannot get into due to the mud and soft ground. This is going to cause us some problems.

My hope is Tex and I can crank out the machine shed this upcoming weekend and I can get back to spraying.

I may even have to mow the lawn. Annmarie is getting tired of the dogs rolling in sheep manure and Gizmo keeps making himself sick from eating too many turds. It starts to make the cost more than its worth.

Machine shed miracle

Tex came out today, after breakfast we went out and started to fill up the pickup with burnables. The burnables are going on a big pile and it is just getting bigger. I worked on getting the second tank off its perch. I made sure to stay out of the way and gently started it rolling. The plan was to keep it on the deck to make it easier to load onto the scrap trailer. It rolled right off the platform and onto the ground.

We just kept moving stuff out and I kept dragging it out to the scrap metal pile. Once we had the tanks out of the shop it was short work to rip out the wooden deck that used to house the fuel tanks. It had the most awesome clear grain6x6 beams and and amazing piece of 3x8x20 foot beam perfectly clear. It made me want to cry as we threw it on the burn pile. All of the wood had fuel, oil, grease or chemicals on it. They had been using it as a storage area forever. I feel better now that it is not in the machine shed. I did manage to hit a nail with my head while we were tearing it apart. I was pretty sure that was gonna leave a mark, it did.

We got two bays totally empty so I started dragging the dirt out with the tractor. I finally had to remove the bucket from the tractor to gain more maneuvering room inside the shop. It looks great!

Unfortunately, moving dirt around has exposed a few problems. Two of the main support beams are rotten on the bottom as the dirt has piled up over the years. We will need to cut off the bottom six inches of two main beams and splice in a new piece. We will also need to fix an overhead broken beam. I am going to have to drag out about 8 inches of dirt on the right side of the machine shed. It looks like when they built the shop they accounted for a natural drainage slope. Over the years the dirt has piled up and that slope is not even any more. I will drag out the extra dirt and take it down to the correct height again. Once we get it all drug out I will order in some 3/4 minus gravel to put into the machine shed. I think 50 cubic yards should do it.

I also found one hole in the concrete wall. I dug out all the loose rock already so I just need to get some sakrete and patch the hole.

Annmarie was busy all day and got the container garden sprinkler system glued together. She has spent evenings and the last two weekends cutting and dry fitting pipe to make sure everything would fit correctly. Twice she came out to the machine shop so Tex or I could untwist a stuck fitting. It is going to be very nice to have this up and going again. As soon as that is done she is going to direct us in setting up the above ground sprinklers for the front hillside. We need those in place so we can start planting. She offered to help with spraying but we only have one tractor and I was using it all day. It doesn’t seem fair to expect her to do tractor work with no tractor.