Sunday was the most productive day of the weekend! It is always good to have one day where you feel like a lot was accomplished. Mr Flow came out and worked on the lavender garden and the berry patch. He got he grass cleaned out around all of the berries and all of the lavender. I was pretty surprised when I went over to check on him and could smell the lavender plants! There are not any blooms on the plants but the plants have a definite odor. We are super stoked about the lavender and the clover we have coming in on the front hillside. We are going to get a bee hive this year. We have been talking about it for years and have finally decided to do it. The hive components are here, I just need to assemble them now. Annmarie and I watched a video this weekend so I think I can do it now. We are hoping to get 40-50# of honey this year. If we can figure out how to get the honey out of the combs, one thing at a time.
Mr Tex and I worked the cows this morning. We needed to sort off the 6 month old calves and also sort off the bull. This means we have to use three pastures and the bull needs to be two fences away from any female cow. The cows came through the gate down at the lower end and went right up to the top of the hill but as we started to push them back toward the house they started running down the hill. I ran 1/4 mile in my rubber boots to keep them from turning downhill, by the time we got done sorting cows I needed some better fitting boots. Sorting the cows went pretty smoothly. We have seven cows to sell. Our old bull 13 years old, a young bull about 8 months old, 2 heifers and 3 steers. We are going to buy a new polled Dexter bull that is 2.5 years old. We need the genetic infusion and we found two cows today out of nine that appeared to not be pregnant. So I will be advertising him and the little bull soon. Due to the price of hay skyrocketing we will have to increase our beef price accordingly.
The weather app on our phone said it was going to storm but the weather was pretty good today until about 1630 and then it was horrible. 1/4” of rain in about 25 minutes with pea sized hail intermixed in it. I had gone out to the old house and just waited out there for the hail to pass. The new office area was fairly quite but the new freezer room was incredibly loud. I am hoping we have enough insulation to get all of the walls sealed up. My mother thinks she may have some insulation in the garage so I will need to take a look as we will still need to insulate the attic. We need to install a new roof top vent and I want to install an attic fan that automatically turns on when it gets above 105 degrees F in the attic, that temperature may even be lowered to 95 degrees. Since we have the vent we might as well use it. In the last two days we have had one inch of rain and the total for the month of May is 2.6” of rain to date.
Mr Professional got up on the roof and spent about three hours sealing the roof and putting in new screws that had pulled out or were missing their gaskets. The roof was installed over 30 years ago. We need to pull up the entire ridge cap and reinstall the vent foam to keep the insects out of the attic. Mr Tex vacuumed the ceiling floor and attic walls. I sealed up the attic cracks from inside the attic, it did not take long for the attic to heat way up. Once we finished in the attic Mr Tex and myself insulated two walls in the office and installed three California corners so we could install the wall boards. We also ran the wire for the heat pump. Now, all of the wire is run and I could even start to wire the electrical box and get the breakers in place. I am going to add that to my after work job opportunities. I will need a large flashlight and a board so I can sit in front of the panel and wire everything in place. Once the new breaker box is wired then I can decide when to move the power into the box. I am going to have to wait until the new freezer room is completed. Right before we left for the day we installed a handle on the pocket door! I dug around in the shop until I found an old handle from something that will work.
Friday I had to go and buy more 2×4 boards. We ran out and more were needed for the California corners and the rough door frame that needs to be installed for the new outside door. They are running about $1/foot. The price is so high compared to a couple of years ago. I had to go in to town to pickup the three cut and wrapped cows. I delivered 2.5 of them and we got the last half. This took a few hours and finished off the day. Mr Flow and Mr Professional came out for a few hours. Mr Flow worked on the lavender patch weeding and the berry patch. They needed a lot of grass removed and some weeds. Mr Professional and I got started in on the production area wall. I had installed most of the insulation first thing in the morning. We thought we had enough four foot tongue and groove boards to get the walls done. The juniper for the ceiling is in the wood dryer and will hopefully be done this week.
The sheep are looking much better now that we have wormed them. They will need it again in a couple of weeks. We had let it go a little long and the sheep were kinda skinny. We have decided to start worming in the fall and early spring whether we think it is needed or not. The sheep have still not rubbed off all of their loose hair yet. They will look much better when they have their smooth coat. We have been moving the sheep around to let the pastures rest. We are going to let them back up onto the hillside to graze. The grass is very tall there.
The weather is so screwy, we had a thunderstorm roll in on Saturday while Mr Professional and I were working on the production area walls. It rained about 3/4” in under an hour. The rain just poured out of the sky. The back creek doubled in size in under thirty minutes and then three hours later was still muddy but back down to almost pre-storm level.
The hay is looking great! We went up to field 1 and it is six inches above my knee. We are going to need to start haying very soon, probably in under ten days. For the haying venture to be successful we need a few dry days on a regular basis. A couple of the lower fields have a lot of cheat grass and were not in the fields we replanted. We are going to bale them and sell them as weedy seconds for cheap. It will pay for themselves.
Well the office is still creeping along. I think it should go faster but something always seems to come up. I went over to Home Depot on Friday and spent 3 hours digging around and finding all of the stuff I needed to finish the wiring. I have to put a 240V 20A outside waterproof box outside for the heat pump. It took me a while to find the boxes and I got 1 of 3 left on the shelf. Pickings for some items were mighty slim. The plan was for Mr Tex, Mr Professional and Mr Flow to come out on Saturday so we could get the underside of the house finished.
They all did come on Saturday but the weather was miserable for working outside. We had a nice hail storm on top of the rain storms, alongside some horizontal lightening. I finally had to let Mouse back into the house as he had crawled up onto the porch and would not leave my side. Mr Professional and Mr Flow worked under the house for four hours and then left, the weather just kept getting worse.
I sent Mr Tex up into the ceiling to clean up all of the dust and stuff. While he did that I finished installing the outlet boxes in the office area. The only real problem was I managed to buy single gang horizontal boxes at Home Depot instead of vertical. I ended up having to remove all of the vertical boxes and use horizontal boxes so I had some horizontal boxes for the single gang switches. So now all of the low switch boxes are horizontal. I think I have 26 outlets in the office in a 13’x16’ room, with a 5’x5’ attached room. I am positive we will not need all 52 outlet plugs, but we have them just in case. I continued cutting holes in the walls in the second room to get ready for power in that room also.
Mr Tex came down to tell me he could not get into the ceiling above the small room. I knew there was a bird’s nest up there so I knew we needed to get it out. This meant that the entire ceiling had to be torn down. The ENTIRE ceiling was full of straw and feathers. We got it all out and then realized that the support boards were in rough shape and not attached to the wall of the house. So once we got that mess all cleaned up we took out some more of the floor and then started to install the overhead beam. We ended up making two beams as I forgot to make a hollow support and just glued and screwed them together with a 1/2” piece of plywood in the middle. Mr Tex went around and drilled holes through all the boards so we could run cable. I had purchased nail stops to go over all of the cable holes so we don’t accidentally staple the wire when installing the wall paneling. I have decided to go with tongue and groove blue pine for the walls installed on a diagonal. The ceiling will be juniper that will be kept unfinished so you can smell it. If I can get all of the wire pulled we can start installing the insulation. The windows have not arrived and we still have the main front door to reframe into a bigger opening. I want to keep the old door to use between the rooms when we do the other room. This will save some money.
We also started installing the overhead light electrical boxes. We are going to have to caulk some of the walls in the attic and install some screen in the roof peak to keep out the hornets. I think letting off a bug bomb every four weeks is going to have to become a habit until we can get a handle on all the little holes everywhere. We did more cleanup as it seems to be an ongoing issue. The old bathroom has a 5” slant over 6’. So I am going to have to find six 2×6” boards to cut on a diagonal so we can get a new level floor installed in that little room.
Since we had to tear out the ceiling in the old bathroom we are going to have to do the same thing in the freezer room. but it also needs three walls torn out and a new level floor installed. We will have to install both doors first as they are being stored in the old kitchen. Once we have them in then we can tear into the old kitchen area and get the rest of the walls out and outside building sealed. It is coming along but there were no great leaps other than getting the new overhead beam in place.
Friday would have normally been a farm work day for me but things have been crazy at work and I still had manager stuff to do so I had to go in for most of Friday. But never fear Mr Professional came out with Mr Flow and they proceeded to tear off the skirting and started cleaning under the house. There was 120 years worth of dead desiccated animals under there plus a lot of cob webs! All of that stuff got cleaned out and tossed onto the burn pile. It was replaced with a whole lot of gravel. I was hoping that this endeavor would only take two days but after spending all weekend, three days on it I figure they have at least three more days. They still need to put in a couple of upright posts, a beam and skirt the building. We are going to try and keep the animals from crawling under the old house. They even managed to rip out a dead old tree stump that was next to the back porch. The back porch that is falling apart and will need to be replaced sooner than later.
I spent all of Saturday caulking the interior seams of the entire house. The house has shiplap on the outside and we are not going to reside it any time soon. It is on the list to be done but not yet. So I am sealing every seam from the inside and then I started to use spray expanding foam to fill in the large gaps. We are going to insulate the attic and the walls before we close them up.
On Saturday night while discussing the plans for the new office with the wife and how I was going to wire the building it occurred to me that I was going to have to wire the entire house all at once, all five rooms. When I mentioned this to the wife she looked at me like I had just stated the obvious. It was not that obvious when I was making my wiring diagram in my head at Home Depot and counting the number of junction boxes I needed to purchase. I am short 15 single gang boxes. I am going to dig through all of my leftover switches and outlets and count them so when I go back to Home Depot I will be able to just buy the rest of the needed items all at once.
So on Sunday, I burnt one of the two large burn piles and then finished caulking all of the cracks, 20+ tubes and finished using up 8 cans of spray foam for one room! It is starting to really seal up. The sound dampening is the most obvious thing right now. Its a lot different and we don’t even have the batting insulation in yet. I need to run all of the wires for power before we can install any insulation. We are just going to wash, prime then paint the ceiling. It’s all tongue and groove wood. We will vacuum up the dirt and dust from the attic and make it totally clean also.
I started to install all of the electrical boxes. That was when I realized that I was seriously short on boxes. I also realized that I am going to have to put in 1 three way switch and 2 two way switches and it just now dawned on me that I need to put an outside waterproof outlet on the porch. So more stuff to add to my purchase list which I will be getting at Home Depot. I need some heavy duty triangle brackets also to hold the wood shelves up with. I have a plan for getting all of the boxes in place and all of the power wired up to the entire house.
It is raining again today, we already have 0.14” for today, the weather person said 0.25-0.5” over the next two days. The grass and wheat are looking amazing. I am not going to fertilize this year but I may have to do it next year, the areas where the alpaca are pooping are 16-18” tall already. So after we get the hay done the manure spreaders need to become functional. There is always something next on the horizon.
Saturday the plan was to start earlier in the day. Mr Hustle and Flow did not like busting bales during the heat of the day in triple digit weather and wanted to do it when it was cooler. This is a reasonable request and was accommodated. They showed up early and we went out to the pickup by 0600. All good ideas must be punished or tarnished in some way, the capricious Lady Luck had some say in their choice. It appears that the last one to move the pickup yesterday was Mr Flow, he left the ignition key turned to the on position. The battery was DEAD! No problem, I will just go get the portable battery vehicle jumper I just replaced this year, yeah, it was dead as I have not needed it since I initially charged it up. You do have to plug it in occasionally to keep it charged. Okay, there is a work around for this, I grabbed the jumper cables and had Mr Hustle go get the tractor/baler combo out of the orchard. I needed it soon anyways so this will just ease my access. Mr Flow tells me that the tools in the pickup glove box will not remove the battery terminal as it is severely corroded again. Magically, my battery terminal cleaner, that was stored in the glove box was missing. I hunted in several places but could not find it, I did however find a small wire brush. Finally, the terminals were clean, the tractor was here and the pickup started on the first try. We just left the pickup running for the next two hours to make sure that the battery had a chance to get recharged. My brilliant idea did work, the sheep cleaned out the entire baler and I did not have to dig out any blockage!
At 0800 my next helper came out, Mr CrossFit. He is going to be in the area for the next three months and had never been on a farm to help, his wife said he may be up for some farm work and he decided to come out. He showed up just in time as we had just pulled into the barn lot with a full trailer and pickup bed full of bales to unload. No rest for the wicked, so he went right to work. I did have to give a little instruction as to the benefits of using your legs to lift and throw a bale. When you have to do this all day the leg trick makes all the difference in the world. I went out with the three of them and we picked up the cheat grass bales. The overhead walkway was ready for these and we will use them as bedding instead of buying straw. The helpers groaned internally when I showed them that they had to go up stairs and stack them all in the walkway. We have about 80 bales up there now ready to just be tossed off for bedding! I realize that there is a lot of extra labor going in on some of these projects but it is all designed to make our labor much easier this winter. I left the three of them alone to finish picking up bales while I went out and baled some more.
I managed to get another 100 bales completed and now field #2&3 are all done. #2 still has some unbaled hay along the creek side but again, after jamming the baler another six times I was done! Turning it did help but some is just still in the tall grass and I cannot get it baled without jamming. I did the sheep trick again and drove it down to the orchard for a sheep clean out. I was going to help with the hay removal process so the sheep can do their part. I also sheared a shear bolt for the second time and just did not want to mess with it any more for the day. I went and got more diesel for the tractor and filled up the pickup, I managed to get 25 gallons into the pickup, it was getting close to fumes and the gas gauge is not very accurate on the low side. Older vehicles and equipment need a user manual, for sure, just to understand all the quirks. We hit it hard and managed to fill up the entire first hay room. It is stacked all the way to the door, and the second room has started getting round bales. We have managed to put away 17 ton of hay in the last two days. I am keeping track of which fields and how much is coming out of each field so we can start to do some projections for how much hay we will be getting next year.