It needs to be easier

Saturday was supposed to be sunny and dry but I opted to do some inside work. I am getting tired of getting up in the middle of the night and having to walk down the stairs to get to the bathroom. The second toilet is gaining traction and prioritization. I was talking to Tex as we were getting started in again and I realized that I forgot to order enough floor tile to go up the walls 4 inches. So now I need to call and order another two cases of tile. I will just cut the 8 inch tiles in half with the wet saw.

I had Tex cutting wood while I installed it. This meant he had to recut some pieces because of me measuring wrong or him cutting wrong. By lunch time he was rubbing his right eye nonstop. He had gotten sawdust in it earlier but I noticed it after he started to wear the eye protection I had out in the old house. I keep gloves, dust masks, goggles, eye glasses and ear plugs out in the old house.

Annmarie wanted him to go to the ER but Tex reminded her that his mother was on duty and he was not going to do that. So I had to call his mother then torture Tex by turning his eyelid inside out and wiping it for dust and splinters. I did not find anything. I also irrigated it and still didn’t see anything. I was less than gentle but did get the job done. He ended up going to see his mom and she sent him to the walk in clinic, he had a scratch on his cornea, got some antibiotics and it will heal. I suspect he will be more cognizant of safety gear. If not, Annmarie told me I have to start making him use it!

The goal is to get insulation all around the heat pipes and the exhaust pipes to trap the heat and cut down on the noise. I went out to finish cutting up the plywood but the saw battery died. By the time I got all the tools and wood cleaned up and put away it was time to get cleaned up for a wedding. I had to give Gizmo a shower as he had gotten out of the yard again and his beard was covered with fresh sheep shit. Zeke has not gotten out since we cleaned up the yard but the little dog is still climbing the fence.

We are going to sort the sheep when we get back from Annmarie’s seminary graduation next week. We are going to pull all the lambs off of their mothers and put them in the orchard. We will swap them with the ram and number one ewe. She is no longer limping and he can go hang out with the ewes as they should all be pregnant. We will give the lambs about 4-6 weeks on the orchard then sell them as a group. We have five more sold for slaughter this fall. I still have one cow to sell for slaughter this fall.

Annmarie looked great for the wedding, the hat is an old Pendleton Wool hat she picked up at an estate sale. She says it looks better on her which I cannot deny.

It rained over half an inch at the end of the week and we are under a flood warning for the next two days. This is definitely putting a crimp on my spraying and haying progress. As soon as my neighbors start cutting hay I will!

Fence till it rains

Every year I think I am going to get the lawn mowed before it gets out of control. Every year in the spring I get distracted fencing and then it rains repeatedly and the grass gets out of control.  I keep thinking the mower will magically be able to slice through 12 inches of wet heavy grass and it won’t.  So every year I come to the same conclusion, use Mother Nature and I turn the sheep loose in the front yard.  The only real drawback to this is going to the cars is like walking through a poop minefield.  It takes two weekends to get the entire yard eaten down.  During the week we cannot let the sheep in the yard unsupervised as the dogs would have a hay day.  
Mowing the lawn!
Tex and I moved all the leftover metal panels down by the spring. I want to install a gate on top of the culvert and still allow animals access to water. So we gave them 16 feet of water frontage so they can go down to water. Every time we fence this we try and let them get to water as the spring never dries out and never freezes. We used the tractor to move the panels around. Hopefully, we can get the posts set for the gate today. The weather just needs to hold out.

Panels moved for new fenced area

 We managed to get the entire momma/baby area fence torn out and reinstalled. I brought the tractor in and we leveled the entire area, reset two posts, fixed a couple of H-braces and restrung the fence. It looks great and now the dry flower area is completely protected.


Momma baby area fence reworked
There is a black walnut tree in the corner of the flower bed. I am hoping it is still alive. It has survived for the last five years even though it gets eaten down to the ground every year. If its still alive then this is its year as nothing can get to it to nibble it down to the ground.
Dry flower area fenced in
I wanted to keep fencing and get that gate in but Mother Nature did not get the memo. By lunch time it was pouring down rain and we had to go inside. Tex and I had Tamales for lunch, they were good but I made salsa Fresca with Serrano Chile’s and it was smoking hot, almost too much. I should have stuck with Jalepenos but the Serranos were on sale!

Upstairs bathroom insulating ducts

We switched to installing insulation and attempting to finish up the framing in the bathroom. We have about five more boards to install so we can sandwich insulation around the horizontal duct. Once that last little bit of framing is done we will start getting the plywood up and cover all the insulation. My hope is that with this insulation we will get hotter air downstairs. This next winter will be the test. Annmarie and I are still trying to come to an agreement on what type of ceramic tile to put on the floor. She wants the same thing that we used downstairs. I want a tile no bigger than 8×8 inches. That size will be easier to install if the floor is not level, which I am sure it is not.

Floor finished

Well it took a week longer than I thought and Annmarie had to sleep at her mother’s house for an extra week but I got the stairs and spare room floor finished. There is still a little light spot on the stairs from the dogs going up and down the stairs but it is not super noticeable. I suspect I will have to do the stairs again in 10 years. I may even sand them smooth then. I just slopped stain over them as is until I was happy with the color then slopped Varethane over that. I may have a few dog hairs in the Varethane.

The barn owl is hanging out in the machine shed now. I went out to feed the cows and it just was not going to leave. I started up the tractor and it just peered down at me and gave me the “what for” look. I drove off and it never moved from its perch. I need to get in the room and clean some more. I want to wipe down the walls and ceiling another 2-3 times to make sure I have gotten all the sawdust off of the walls and wood trim. Once all that is done then I am going to stain the door trim in place. Its a pain to do but I opted to do it in stages as I wanted to get the floor done first. I don’t think I will need a bunch of coats of stain and varethane on the trim. I will probably only do one maybe two coats. Unfortunately, I am not going to put the furniture back in the room until I am all done cleaning. I can do the door staining with the furniture back in place. It turned out very nice. I think I am going to add 1-2 more shelves in the closet storage room also. I will be able to store stuff all the way to the ceiling that way. I am also going to add a shelf between the intake and output duct. This will gain me five feet of shelf 18 inches wide and 20 inches deep. That is a lot of space! This has spurred me to reconsider building another narrow shelf next to our refrigerator. We currently have all our reusable bags just stuffed into a 7 inch wide gap. To minimize space loss I should use 5/16 plywood. The trouble is I like the look of old doors but that will cause me to lose 3 inches which is too much. So I am still arguing with myself on what to put their that will not cause a loss in decor. I am considering a frame type shelving unit using the old floor kickboards. I found a bunch of them in the rafters of the old woodshed when I was installing the weather station. I just need to figure out how I am going to put them together. That project is going to preoccupy my mind for the near future.

I have determined which alpaca is the smartest. It is the not smallest black one. The trailer got moved and this is the only spot on the entire property with visible grass and he was all over it. I came back two hours later and eight alpaca were trying to lay in this spot! The trailer was moved in the night so they did not see the spot come open.

Staycation

Well there is nothing like a good old vacation at home to get some stuff finished. The only bad part about this is that something always comes up to get you off track and distracted from the main goal. Our weather has been horrible so I am now feeding the cows every night and occasionally I have to feed them morning and night.
We decided to integrate the ram and his three girls with the main sheep herd this week. I just opened the gate and he found his way over to the barn. We still have five ewes separated out from the main herd. Two of those are no longer pregnant and need to go back in with the main herd. The other three are first time mommas, so our working theory is that the reason they are so far behind everyone else is that they were not old enough to get pregnant when we put the ram in the first time. So we are going to just keep those three and their babies separated off for 7 months and then toss them back in with the main herd. This will be easier than keeping the ram separated. 7C078585-042E-4E64-AF73-9C3D4031999A Clean old milk shed area
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My favorite Y gate
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Spare room closet
I got a new phone and ended up using the blog app directly from the website and it let me add titles to my pictures. I really like that feature and may end up having to do it every time. We will see after I get the app up and running on my phone. The whole reason for this Staycation was to get the spare bedroom floor completed. This sounds easy as I only need to sand the paint off of the outer 2′ next to the walls. It took me two days to empty the room 100%. I was unsure how I was going to move the big ticket items alone when I spotted the smooth furniture discs in the closet. Annmarie got these several years ago to slide furniture around and I may have ridiculed the idea some. It’s much more manly to just lift things. Unfortunately when you are alone that is not really an option on a stand up dresser or armoire. I used the furniture sliders, and they were definitely slick and the way to go. I apologized to Annmarie when she came home. 42F18C33-8E50-4BE5-A4EE-CB554E4C1E17

Floor sanding gear

I do wear a dust mask when sanding inside as it gets very nasty quickly in the room with all the doors shut. I had only been at it a few hours when the palm sander died! A lot of tools are not designed for hours of use at a time. They think you will use it for an hour or less. Annmarie picked me up one at the feed store. I am on Staycation so the rule is I don’t leave the house. I have been very good and following this rule. We did go out to dinner on Friday night for Valentine’s Day. Amazing how easy it was to get reservations for the day after Valentine’s Day. EB826E5E-117C-4E44-B2D3-245A57194C35 Sander died
The snow keeps coming, we have had to drag the driveway twice with the tractor to clean up the road. Today I did it first thing in the morning and it warmed up enough to melt off all of the driveway. This is the best reason to clean off the snow. The untouched areas of snow are still present and it is supposed to snow every day this week.
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Barn lot

 

 

Omelet anyone?

I have been craving a ham and cheese omelette for days. One would think that this would be an easy fix, but one would be wrong. The light went out in our chicken coop and I replaced it early in the week but this sudden change screws with the chickens ability to lay eggs in the winter. Now they have to get used to the light again and this has caused the egg production to halt. We also have a bunch of free loader house finches sneaking into the coop whenever the automatic chicken door opens. They are going for the easy meal plan.

Now we had an extra dozen eggs on top of the fridge on Monday but Annmarie took them to town and sold them to one of our customers. Annmarie consumes one raw egg a day with her morning smoothie, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, raw egg and a splash of milk. I need three eggs to make a decent omelette. I am only getting 1, 2 or 0 eggs per day this week. I cannot seem to gain eggs in the fridge. Tonight when I went out I got 2 more eggs total. I now have a total of four eggs in the fridge and will be having an omelette in the morning tomorrow! Luckily, I held off on using the two eggs in the fridge for French toast this morning. I never would have gotten my delicious ham, cheese, onion, garlic, jalapeño sharp cheddar cheese omelette. I can already taste the deliciousness. I went out and worked on the shelves some more. I faced the sanded down oak plywood sheets with an oak 1/4″ edging. I smeared glue on the whole thing, pin nailed it then put clamps and wood shims to hold it all together. I will take the clamps off tomorrow and work on getting the pieces stained and clear coated after that. It is going to make the house stink but it needs to be done. It will take me a few more days to get the stain on and both sides of the shelves sealed up. I want to be able to just wash them down if needed. Pretty much anything is going to be more organized than it was before. I took out all the gun barrel clamps they had on the left side of the upper cabinet. I found several hats I thought I had lost when I cleaned out the cupboard.

Annmarie has been working on getting our laser cutter up and going. She is trying to get it perfected so we can burn in the old pictures from the farm and put them up in our kitchen. To do that she needs to practice and practice. I am having trouble keeping my phone propped up in the kitchen while typing the blog so she took a piece of scrap she had printed a picture on and make a ipad/iPhone holder out of it. I love it and think it is even neater with the picture on it. I can now do the blog without using the napkin holder and pushing the bottom up with my keyboard.

Annmarie imported all of my blogspot posts into WordPress so I now have all the blogs since 2010 in one place! She also managed to create a new look, a quick subscribe button, search function, categorize by month and year and a list of top 50 tags I have used that you can click on. It is super cool! This is where the magic happens at our kitchen table. I type most of the blogs up right here, it is more convenient than going up to the computer. Once I finish the welding class a new kitchen table is on my agenda. I am going to weld it into two pieces that stack and the bottom piece will be on casters. I will then glue on a solid piece of granite to the top of that. I would like to have some wooden dividers built in also. I am still trying to decide how those are going to fit. I have to build and tear it apart in my mind at least a 100 times before I start a project. It cuts way down on the redos.

I did snag a picture of the new diamond bungee cord arrangement in the barn. I had a partial box made out of 3×3 wire mesh so I finishing wrapping it with wire and will use it in the barn lot. It is all ready for rocks, although I should put a wooden post in it before I start tossing rocks into it.

The new barn kitty is a pest, she comes running the minute you open a door and wants to be greeted. If you don’t stop and pet her she will follow you around the entire barn getting underfoot. I was trying to do the horse’s feet today and had one of their front feet in the air and the the cat kept rubbing on the other down front leg. The horse kept trying to hop to the side with only one foot on the ground. I finally had to shoo the cat away so I could finish cleaning out horse feet.

I am wanting to build another fence! I make Annmarie crazy with all the fences but honestly, they all do something. I want to plant flowers on this rocky hillside to cut down the erosion. We want to do bee hives sooner than later and they will need flowers. I like the disorganized chaos of wildflowers. Annmarie likes orderly flowers better. The horses and sheep keep eroding this hillside so I am going to fence it off and then plant the whole thing in wildflowers. The fence will keep the horses and sheep out of the flowers and hopefully the bees will like it. We will mount a sprinkler on top of one of the posts so we can water it in the summer.

I have decided to add an occasional piece of Bad Dad Poetry, they are all inspired by my daughter and I write them for her with a theme.

My wallet is thin

My pocket yearns for the days of prosperity

It used to struggle to hold in the bounty

This month times are lean

If only someone could help?

Catch up time inside

Winter should be here soon, even though the grass is still green. I have moved on to inside projects. It’s after Thanksgiving so it is time to give up outside things. I did sneak in an hour this morning adding a new hook above the sheep doors so I could run a bungee cord over it and stiffen the doors in the middle. I need to get a picture of it now and everyone will understand why we spend $35/year on bungee cords. The cords hold our feeders up to the walls and each other also.

Today I worked on our hall closet. We bought a special tool to drill holes into the walls so we could add movable shelves. I figured out how to make them work today and have spent two days sanding oak plywood for the shelves. I had two extra sheets of oak from the cabinets I made a few years ago. I am even going to face the front edge with some leftover edging from the air return. Tomorrow I will glue on the facing then stain it in the evening. The big problem is I took the door off when we laid new tile on the floor. I cannot seem to find the door. I have been searching for months. It may have ended up on a burn pile…

We had prime rib cut from our beef this year. We have always made it into steak in the past but decided to try our own. It was amazing!! I took a picture below before I started adding the dry rub. It is so much leaner than what you get at the store and we cook it in a salt coffin low and slow and it was the best prime rib we have had in a long time and it didn’t cost us $85. There is one more and I am thinking about cooking it on the table top Traeger grill we got this summer. I should probably practice with brisket first before I attempt the prime rib.

Annmarie had been talking to me about installing a half door going into her craft room. She has mentioned it several times but this week I had a free day so I just went out to the old house and dug around until I found an old door that was wide enough. The door was not perfectly proportioned and one panel was larger than the other. I decided that I did not want to have to move the door handle as this was going to be painful. So I measured the height I wanted and just sawed the door off at that height. This left two sticky up parts on each side. So I popped the leftover panel piece out with some pliers and a hammer. Then I beat on the scrap piece until I was able to pull it the top molded part of the door. I then glued the side of that piece and beat it in to the top opening back into the old grooves. Viola, a half door! I had to shave off 2.5 inches off of one side and then chisel in some spots for old hinges I found in a drawer. img_6565It took me another 2 hours to hang the door as no door, no matter how small is ever easy to hang. I had to remove the hinges twice and chisel them deeper into the wood. My tolerances were only 1/8″ and that was a little too tight. I thought I would just attach the latch part into the wall and I would be done! This is were you realize 5 hours into the job that you used the top part of the door and the latch is backward and you don’t want to change the swing side of the door. So now I will be buying a sliding latch to go on the front of the door to keep it closed. The best part of this is that I drilled a hole into the door casing 11 years ago when I was running new electrical wire. It was an accident and I have meant to fill it for years. I will now be using that hole as a receptacle for the new sliding lock I am putting on the half door! Maybe I was planning for this eventuality and did not even realize it myself.

Visible progress

It is coming along nicely. I have sold myself on the idea that I need the help doing the trim so I have crossed it off on my to do list and am moving on to other things. Yesterday, I started to mow the property. I mow different spots through out the farm in an attempt to keep our herbicide usage down. I have still not managed to get rid of the cheat grass that is everywhere. I am told there is a fancy spray that may do it but with my luck I will need an applicators license and that is just one more hoop. The mower works if you use it often. My ideal mowing conditions are windy and rainy. This may seem odd at first but after 6-8 hours on a tractor with no cab getting bounced around and breathing dust all day it makes perfect sense. The rain keeps the dust down and the wind ensures that if there is any that it will blow away from you if you have adjusted your mower trajectory to take advantage of it. It started to rain just as I went out so I thought I would get lucky, no deal, Mother Nature only teased me and did not deliver the goods. Using a little four foot wide mower it takes about 4 days to mow the entire place. I put in a solid day yesterday and got the barn lot done, the area around the houses and out buildings and driveway. I started mowing the upper prime pasture and got it about 30% done.

My tractor, the mistress, needs some TLC, I need to hammer out her hood, give her a good bath and an oil change. I may even shoot some paint onto her scratches and rusty spots! She needs to stay in working shape as next year its haying time at this time of year.

I really need to remember to take a wire brush and some WD40 with me when I go to hook up the mower. The PTO gets a little dirty and slightly rusty and the mower connector does the same. This makes for an incredibly hard fitting connection. It almost wants to go but just will not slide that last 2 inches! This took me almost 20 minutes to get connected. I had already cleaned off both pieces with my gloves and gotten all the dirt and surface rust off. It just would not go and its a ten minute turnaround to go get spray lubricant. I also have a can that the propellant is dying on so it may not work. I thought about spitting on it but figured that would just make the rust worse. I ended up using the oil dipstick from the tractor to get enough oil to slick it up so I could get it to slide on! This had an added benefit of letting me know its time for an oil change. I think I still have about 40 hours of run time on the meter but its coming up quickly.

This tight work on the back of the tractor can lead to some unintended consequences. I decided to wear my Apple Watch yesterday as I am on the volunteer Quick Response Team (QRT) for the local fire department and most people are out of town. I cannot hear or feel my phone in my pocket when on the tractor. The Apple Watch always gets my attention so I thought it would be a good idea. When I went to hook up the PTO for the mower I discovered some hay baling twine wrapped around one of the back tire shafts. This stuff is bad around moving parts as this is how I lost my U joint in the pickup two years ago. So I was leaning over the tire whacking away at it with my semi sharp knife when I get a phone call. Its the 911 dispatcher wondering if I am okay. She can hear the tractor in the background and I am on headphones with a microphone so I can talk on the phone. I tell her its an accident and I am okay. If you didn’t know, constant pressure on your Apple Watch will call 911. I cannot remember if its 15 or 20 seconds but it does work. This is the second time I have done this. My phone is also set up to alert my medical provider and she called me about 10 minutes later to see if I was alive. I assured her I was, I should have texted her after the 911 call. So yes, those emergency features on your iphone and Apple Watch really do work! As in all things good there were a couple of casualties. We had purchased a round pen last year that I used to protect the large bales. I had moved it and thought I had every piece accounted for, but I was mistaken. The mower found a piece hidden in the grass. I “fixed” it with some bailing twine. Its almost as good as new just don’t get your ankle to near the fix. I had brand new mower blades this year installed by Muscles, luckily Mr Experience double checked and got them right. After a few hidden rocks they don’t look so new any more.

I am looking more forward to the welding class this fall the farther into summer we get. I need to start a list of all the things that need to be welded and fixed. I want to make our back fence for the garden, custom porch railings for the front yard, custom upright pole braces for the back yard deck clear cover (this one is very last), stair railing, more horse shoe gate latches, multiple gate repairs, custom fence made from thousands of horse shoes (I need the horse shoes and a location for said fence but I am doing it just not sure where). The possibilities are endless! I now know where I can get things powder coated and I have a 16 foot trailer so I am set!

I spent Friday picking up the wood for the Bull corral and to reside the bad parts of the barn. It is too nice! I found about 15 pieces out of the 50 that are amazing looking. It would be a crying shame to put them on the outside of the barn. I may have too but honestly I think I only need about 12 full pieces to get the entire job done. I am also thinking about hammering out the front barn addition this summer. I will have the boards left over from the bull enclosure and I have the leftover boards in the barn that I can cobble together and make a path from the mother enclosure to the L shaped grain enclosure on the other side of the tack room. If I was smart I would have put the tack room in the L shaped area and used the other for the sheep. I just didn’t think we would need the sheep space that badly. This actually works out better as I will be able to build a platform to stand on to install the upper window in the end of the barn. I will use scrap tin for the roof and I think I even have enough of that laying around. Screws will be the most expensive part of the whole project. The pieces are all there. I even have a couple of old windows I can put in that end of the barn! Mr Experience makes headway every day. I have a picture below of the before trim with dark curtains to hide the window frame. This worked well and was cheap! It did not keep the bugs out.

This is what the windows look like now! A vast improvement I must say. Now we don’t want to put up curtains. It is bright in the morning, there is no sleeping in as the sun blasts in and lets you know its here. Luckily, we don’t sleep in but a few times a year. So we are now looking at a cloth, paper like blind that mounts inside and can stay up most of the time. They are not super cheap so we will be doing one window every few months until we are done.

Honestly, the house looks like a house now not a construction project. When I get the spare bedroom floor finished this fall I think I will do a quick sand job on the breezeporch and paint the floor with the stain we used on the outside fence. The floor was red at one point a long time ago. Once that is done I can build my custom reloading bench! Guns, dog kennels and live plants, maybe even a hydroponic garden will be my man cave area.

Zeke is causing problems again. He knows without a doubt now that he can dig his way out of the fence. So if we are not inside the house and he is off the run he just digs a hole out. He did it again yesterday when Annmarie went to her mother’s house. He could see her car so he just dug his way out. This means that I will have to take some time tomorrow to bring in 50 large rocks and line the fence. So if he digs down the rock will just slide down into the hole. This has worked in a few of the holes so far so we hope it will work for the whole fence. He is so painful.