Cows sorted and back to office

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.

Office is finally moving forward

Today Mr Tex came out and we focused on getting the wiring done. We pulled the wires and I labeled both ends very well so I could install all of the outlets and switches correctly. I will also have to install all of the breakers and label them once I am done. I needed to install one triple switch and one quad switch but it has been years since I did it. I thought I knew but ran into the house and got my cheater book to make sure I did it right!! Luckily, we had 12/2, 14/2 and 14/3 wire so I was able to use what was necessary to get all the switches correct. I even went into the house attic and pulled down the leftover roll of 500” 12/2 hoping it would be enough, but it was not. Mr Tex got a list of stuff to do, fix the old bathroom ceiling and plug the window off and the bathroom hole. While he did that I ran to Pendleton and bought another 500’ of 12/2. I had not wired any of the freezers yet. We got wires ran to two freezer outlets. We needed to get my room cleaned out so we could move all of the remodel equipment out of the freezer room. Three of the walls in the freezer room need to be torn out so we can seal the walls and install more outlet boxes, then insulate the walls.

We got everything pulled that we had time for, I have four more cable runs to pull and we will be done with the entire house. I even remembered to add two porch outlets and a back porch light! I think our holdup is going to be the windows that we ordered. No telling when those will come.

Mr Professional came out for a couple of hours and we worked on emptying the second room. We need to be able to stage all of the purchased supplies and get the new freezer room cleaned out so the walls can be stripped out. I need the walls out so we can install power, seal the walls then install insulation.

I keep changing my mind on what to do with the walls and ceiling. I was going to just paint the ceiling and do the walls in pine. I have some 1×6” and 1×10” boards and I was just going to butt them up to each other. This won’t look amazing but would work. I am not going to do that. I am getting tongue and groove juniper for the ceiling and tongue and groove blue pine for the walls. I want it to look pretty! I am even going to install it on a diagonal. It will hit more boards that way but will look prettier also. I will use the plain stuff to sheath the new freezer room walls. We are going to do that room at this stage but it doesn’t need to be fancy. I am even thinking about leaving the original window in the room. I think I will for now and then this summer decide if I need to install a thermostatically controlled vent fan to make sure the room doesn’t get too hot. I am hoping that if I insulate the room well I can keep some of the extreme heat out.

Today, Monday we have had 0.43” of rain in the last day. The wheat looks amazing. Our upper fields are looking amazing in places, last years grass is skyrocketing. We need some warmer weather to really cause the seed we planted in the fall to shoot up. Its about 4” tall now. Last year’s grass is over 18” tall already. Next week we are going to have to stop and focus on getting the sickle bar mower attached and ready and get the baler repaired and ready to go.

Office work continues

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.

Office Progress

Of course it was dumping snow out of the sky this morning and we had a couple of inches on the ground by the time I got out to start in on the new office. It was way too cold to be outside in the snow. Mr Tex came out shortly thereafter and we worked on the office. He finished ripping out the rest of the old bathroom walls. We found one whole side filled with birds nests and the opposite side had a nice mouse nest at the bottom of the wall.

I spent most of the morning figuring out how to get the new electrical box to line up with the electrical conduit outside the house. I will wire the entire box, all the outlets and switches and then in a couple of hours I will kill main power and then just move power supply over to the new box and then turn it on! I don’t want the freezers to be without power for very long. I realize a few hours is not a big deal but I think I can get the entire thing done in under two hours once I have it all prepped. We finally got the box in place and I got the entire thing framed out. I will cut out the plywood for the back next then I will start wiring the office room and the freezer room.

Once I had the electrical box in and Mr Tex had the old bathroom torn apart we started working on getting the walls sealed up from the floor and the attic. Some of the spaces we will be able to caulk as they are not very big but the big ones will need some spray in foam. The newer 2×4 lumber is not as wide as the stuff they used to use. This causes some gaps that we will just need to fill in. Unfortunately, it was so cold today that we could not use any liquid anything as it would not have set up. We had decided to put in fire brakes to help stiffen the walls. Once we had all of the shiplap off of the walls the room did not feel as sturdy. The supports are helping it to stiffen back up. We will have to drill holes in them to run the wiring but that can wait until we have everything in. I would like to paint the acrylic roofing onto the walls before we wire but the weather is going to determine the order on that choice. We need to be able to caulk first then paint. The ceiling is going to stay the same, we will just have to scrub it clean, prime it and paint it. The nice part is the ceiling will be the only part of the room that has to be painted. I have been contemplating a white wood stain for a couple of the walls and maybe another color, red for the work closet? Annmarie is going to have to help with that choice. The floor we are just going to hand sand and stain like I did our upstairs. I did notice today that they used to have linoleum in the room and there is still some glue in places. This stuff is hard to sand out as it gums up the sandpaper pretty fast but it’s not the entire room.

I went to Home Depot on Friday and bought two doors, a 32” and 36”. We will have to reframe the entire door into the room from the porch. It is just kind of hanging in the opening and there is no support or header for the door. It needs to be completely rebuilt. I hate hanging doors as it is very tedious and precise work. Luckily, we found a case of shims while we were cleaning out the old house so we are ready for doors and windows. One of the windows will be pulled out and covered up and the second one needs to be totally reframed for the same reason as the front door. I also ordered the two new windows. We will wait on tearing out and replacing the windows until we have the new ones. I got all of the lights and boxes to wire the room. I cannot believe the price of wiring! Twenty five feet of 10/2 with ground is $100. I need it to wire the 240V for the heat pump. I also emailed and texted the heat pump company to get an updated bid and I will pay for it now. We are now officially committed as I have spent $3k in supplies already. That will double once the heat pump goes in. I think I can get the entire thing done for about $8k.

Catching up mothers

Well it was a long weekend, the weather was too nice for January, we set a record high temperature. I had Mr Professional and Mr Tex over for Friday and Saturday. The time was spent getting yards cleaned up and trees trimmed at both my Mother’s house and Mother-in-law’s house. We spent a day at each to get the trees and bushes trimmed and all of the clippings picked up and removed. I am definitely feeling my age. I crawled up into a tree and used a chain saw to cut branches out. I had to work at getting around inside the tree and was very glad the chainsaw was electric. The chain saw was so great I am going to go buy myself one with a 16” bar. It was super quiet and incredibly lightweight. Just fill bar oil and change out the battery! We ended up burning the slash pile two days in a row, there was so much material on it. At my mother-in-laws we cleaned off the hillside and removed blue spruce needles, leaves, wild roses, blackberries and branches. She had multiple plants with thorns and I was working up a sweat so I took off my warm hat. I have around eight cuts/scratches on my head from various branches and multiple scratches on both arms. Those thorny bushes make you pay for moving them.

On Sunday I didn’t want to really do anything, but things have to get done. So we moved a culvert up to field 4b and set a bigger one up into field 3. It is almost too wet to work with the tractors. The little John Deere kept trying to get stuck. It just does not have enough mass to get around when the ground is wet. Mr Professional keeps wanting to get tractor tire chains. I won’t do it. Chains would merely allow myself to get really stuck! We have a little time and will try and back fill around the culverts as the weather permits.

I do morning chores on the weekends and Annmarie does it the rest of the week. I do the evening chores and if I have to feed the cows it takes me an hour after work to get everything done. The morning chores consist of feeding horse, cats, four boy sheep and letting everyone out of the barn, ten minutes tops. The real problem here is if there are new babies then you have to catch them and get them and their mothers in a jug (crèche). That can take over an hour or be even more painful. The evening chores are just guaranteed to be long. I like the predictability of evening chores. So in a nutshell, the morning chores are like playing the lottery, you are a winner occasionally but most of the time its a losing proposition.

We got lucky and were able to be the recipient of ten 10 month old chickens. We picked them up yesterday. I put a large dog kennel in the back of the pickup and had a tarp and some straps I could wrap around it to keep the wind off of the birds. The problem is it was cold and we had about a 50 minute drive to get home. While we were eating dinner in our vehicle I felt pity and managed to jam the large kennel into the back seat by moving the front seats up as far as they would go. This is not the most comfortable configuration but it does allow the chickens to stay warm. Annmarie met me in Pendleton and arrived with gloves and a Pendleton woolen blanket. The pickup has a few foibles. I call them character traits. There is a large crack in the windshield, the vehicle has not been washed for at least two years, the ABS (antilocking brake system) is armed all of the time now so the brakes are a little touchy, the heat/air conditioner don’t really work, the headliner is held in place with gorilla tape and headliner tacks, the aftermarket seat covers are constantly trying to come off, there seems to be an intermittent short and the turn signal/brake light fuse has been replaced twice in the last two weeks, but they do work. The passenger door panel is loose and not attached to the door frame. The passenger window can only be rolled up/down on the passenger side door switches and there are no keys for the doors so it can never be locked. This door problem can be overcome with smooth fencing wire and time, but its annoying so I now just leave the rear window slider latch open all of the time for emergencies. Basically, it is a farm vehicle! The chickens survived the trip just fine and today when I went out to collect eggs I was able to count all ten of the new chickens! It was nice moving the chickens in the dark.