It must be even

It had rained the days before so we did not want to cut any new hay. Instead we planned on turning hay. I had a funeral to go to so we got Tex all set up with our new 5 foot power rake. He will turn all the hay this Saturday. This rake will let you pile it all up into a row. I had visions of Tex just following the rows that the mower created. he did one better! He went down one side of the row then at the end of the row he turned around 180 degrees and went the opposite direction allowing the row to double in size and cut the number of rows in half. This was very clever and not something I would have thought of had I done the turning.

Before I left in the morning Tex and I planned out our needed improvements to the machine shop. One of the rafters is broken, we need a bunch of plywood to line the hay room to keep the round bales in and the loose hay out of the new gravel area. We also need to install the bolt and screw organizers that were laying on the floor of the machine shed. I need to get all the bolts and screws organized and out of the multitude of drawers I currently have them in. I am also going to hang some bin organizers on one wall. I need to mount these to a sheet of plywood, so we will be hanging a few sheets up on the walls for future use. We also need to make legs for the new free countertops I managed to snag on the way home this week. Every once in a while those “Free” signs are a big win.

I went to my least favorite big box store and picked up plywood and lumber with a few Knick nacks. I had to wait 30 minutes for help loading plywood as there was only one guy who could do it. There are reasons I dread Home Depot, but I spend so much money there I get the zero interest for 6 months on my charge card and always pay it off in time. I love that deal!! Plus on Saturday at 1600 there is no other place in the area open to buy lumber.

I knew I needed some more baling twine, but with micro equipment I was unsure where I was going to get it. The salesman on the phone seemed to think I could get it anywhere. So I found it at a local store and bought two small, 5000 feet rounds. They did not have Jute cord like the free roll I got with the baler but they had lots of types of plastic cord to pick from. I was not sure if they would fit but its all they had and something is better than nothing.

When I got home and published the blog last night Annmarie spotted the uneven gates on the new stretch of fence. She mentioned that would need to be corrected tomorrow. I told her hay came first but I would think about how to fix it without spending 10 hours reworking two rock cribs.

Hay equipment is here!

Well, the much needed hay equipment is here. It arrived on Friday. I had Tex come out and start cleaning up fencing scraps and wood scraps. We have them strung all over the farm from doing all the fencing, since a scrap guy is coming I want to try and get all of it cleaned up, sent away or burnt. The new burn pile is already starting to grow. They tried to deliver the equipment on Wednesday but I was not available for a 4 hour window and told the clerk on the phone that they came at the end of the four hour window last time and if they would do it this time I could do Wednesday. She said no, I had to be there the entire four hours. We pushed out the delivery day to Friday as I knew Tex or myself would be available. I had to go into work that morning and was hoping to be done by 1100. They called me at 1040 to say that they were ready to deliver and in Pilot Rock! I called Tex and went home ASAP. There was three pieces of equipment delivered, the mower, the power rake and the baler.

There were some issues, the company over sold the mower I wanted so I have a loaner mower, it’s a little smaller and does not condition the grass. It’s cheaper should I decide to keep it. The round baler is smaller and only bales about 90 bales an hour vs 120 on the one we want. The one we want still has to come over on a container by ship from Italy. All of this stuff is made in Italy. We had to keep all the shipping material so that the baler and mower can be shipped back to the company when they send us our mower and baler.

I had visions of just backing up to the equipment with our quick hitch system and hooking up to everything and just putting it in the machine shed. This did not happen, as not a single piece was capable of using the quick connect. I kept trying, finally Tex told me I had to take the quick connect off the tractor and hook directly to the three point hitch.

You can see that it almost wants to do it, it just needs a couple more inches. I took pictures and sent them to the company asking for a fix. What good is a quick connect when you cannot use it? Prior to this round of equipment I had four pieces for the tractor and three of them can use the quick connect. This makes switching out a couple of minutes and that includes parking it in the correct storage spot. Now that we have four more pieces of equipment the quick connect can only work on 3/8 pieces. This is not acceptable. I ordered 8 adjustable pins that I can bolt on myself. They are about 2 inches longer so I will gain 4 inches total. Looking at the pictures I think that four inches is going to be plenty. I also ordered a box of various locking pins to hold the equipment on. The cleaned out machine shed is amazing!! There is still quit a bit of dust but I am hoping that when I get the plywood up on the hay side I can start to contain the dust. I may drag a hose out and wet down the gravel, maybe even spray down the entire inside of the machine shed to give it that once a centennial cleaning.

The old floor scale that Annmarie’s dad got from PGG has all the parts, I really want to install it and put all the pieces together. I will need a level poured concrete pad about 4×6 feet first. Next year I may do it. It shouldn’t be too bad, I can use sacrete and I have the mixer. I can just use a piece of cow panel as the rebar.

Zeke got out of the yard twice this week so Tex and I removed all the old scrap wood and fencing that was leaning up in the corner of the yard. So now there is no ramp for him to use as a launching platform over the fence. I also went and dug down the piles of dirt I had placed near the side fence.. He had a 18 inch launching platform to go over the fence. Since doing that on Friday, he has not been able to get out of the yard a single time. Who knows if it is a lack of opportunity or just an unwillingness to leave. Time will tell.

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.

I was supposed to buy fence posts

The plan this morning for Tex and I was to go help my mother at her old rental that she is fixing up to sell. She needed some yard work and digging done, Tex duties, and me to look at some other stuff. The other stuff was easy and before I could get out of there to go to Home Depot she made me get a haircut. I am a grown man and I truly believe that 3 or 4 haircuts a year are sufficient. I have felt this way since I could voice an opinion and it has not changed. My mother’s haircut belief system falls more in line with the military’s view. She thinks I need one every 3 weeks or sooner. So to ensure I got a haircut she brought the tools up to the house we were working on so I had no excuse to get away. I have a very nice haircut now.

I drove to Hermiston to return our tile samples and possibly place an order. Now it was a spur of the moment decision so Annmarie did not know I was going. Once at the tile place I managed to find a 6×6 inch tile that Annmarie liked via the wonders of text messaging and photos. She was not digging the Art Deco tile I found, 8×8 inch. I loved the bottom right corner and wanted to do the entire floor in it. No such luck. I ordered the tile she wanted and we got the prices for the rest. There was a hangup about the backsplash we wanted and the amount of water it could handle. The saleswoman called the company and called me back to say it would be fine. We will be ordering it after I get the floor installed. The floor tile was only $230, amazing when you only have a 60 sq ft room.

At Home Depot I was going to buy 4×4 posts for the fence yard build as Gizmo and Zeke keep getting out. I needed 100 feet of woven wire small enough that Gizmo cannot get through. They did not have it. So I gravitated to the concrete blocks they had out by the front door. They were incredibly cheap at just over $1 each. So I got a pallet of 100. I figured now was the time to get the stairs in on either side of the spring in the barn lot. I wanted some steps so the sheep and horses don’t tear up the dirt banks and keep making that area wider or steeper. It went in fairly well and we only used 40 blocks so we have 60 for the opposite side.

Its a good thing we have more blocks as that side is taller than the other. I will try and take down that side by 8 inches tomorrow. We are looking at getting those blocks installed tomorrow, the gravel spread out in the machine shed and the gates on the machine shed.

We got all the equipment moved around and now I just need to spread the gravel into the last bay before we install gates. We will take measurements in the morning. Before I can go to town we will need to offload the scrap metal I picked up last week. Its still on the trailer.

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.