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, jalapeƱo 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.

It is really happening

Spring is really here and it is amazing this year. We have a lovely green color growing everywhere. This is not normal for Eastern Oregon and now it is starting to cause me problems. I need to mow and I need to spray weeds. Correction, I needed to spray weeds three weeks ago. I ordered the parts for the tractor mower last week so hopefully they will be in by Friday so I can actually mow this holiday weekend. I will be doing the typical farmer holiday and working frantically every day to play catch up before I go back to the paying job on Tuesday. I really want to get the bull enclosure worked up. I would like to be 60% complete by the end of the weekend.

I just love looking out our back kitchen window or our living room and being able to watch the sheep wander and play. It is very relaxing. At 0300, when the bedroom window is letting in all their hollering for momma I am not near as magnanimous.

While Annmarie and I go to work every day, Mr Experience and Muscles have been working on floor and window trim. It is so painfully slow, it just makes my pocket book ache! Every time I think about it I remind myself that it took me 2 days just to do 3 windows and nothing else. It helps put things into perspective. I am going to have to make another bank run.

The realist in me realizes I simply do not have the time. For this project to get done I need to pony up the cash! My time is more valuable than my money. Plus every day when we come home the house looks better. It looks good!! I complain about the money but by the time we are done with our entire remodel we will only have about $85-90/sq ft into the house. In the current housing market this is not even obtainable and we have used items with longevity and style reminiscent of our turn of the century home. So I need to be grateful and just pony up the cash!

It looks amazing. Not to take away from the house but my pullets keep dying. I had another three die this week. I think it is that virus that I get every spring. I think the ducks bring it onto the property but it only usually affects 6-8 chickens every year and mostly the new ones at that.

Our house truly is at the end of a rainbow. A home is made by love and hard work. I truly do love where we are now and how things have turned out in our lives. We are where we need to be.

Auction day

I got called into work on Friday night and managed to get out before midnight. As I was sitting in my car contemplating driving home I decided to read the paper and spotted a college farm surplus auction the next day at the local community college. I convinced Annmarie we should go in the morning, I think she really just wanted to go back to sleep. My argument was that by the time I paid someone to help me build a bull corral we could have just bought most of the panels at the auction for cheap. My only real fail in this thought process was that other people would think the same thing. We transferred money over into the checking account and drove the pickup and trailer into the auction on the off chance we would score lots of stuff. Unfortunately a lot of people came for the same thing we did. This made the bidding for some of the gates and panels steep. We had to bail on several gates and panels as they just sold for too much. We did score on the metal T fence posts and ended up getting over a 100 at only $1/each. I usually pay $2/each at the junk yard. We ended up with 244 lineal feet of panels, three corner horse feeders, 100 + T posts and a heavy duty welding table and vice. I wanted to get the welding table repaired from the machine shop but for $25 I got a much heavier table and another vice, which is way cheaper than I would have paid to repair the old. Annmarie got me signed up for the evening welding class this fall at BMCC , two nights a week. I am really looking forward to it as I am going to build our custom metal railings and back yard fence. I will just buy the material and weld it together myself.

The only real trouble with this is we stood around on the hot pavement in the sun for over five hours then loaded heavy panels onto the trailer and realized that this would not be a one trip show. When we got home I had muscles help me unload and then we went to get the second load. It filled the trailer and the pickup again. This time when we got home we unloaded and built a section of fence for the bull corral out of panels. We built it over the rock bluff portion of the enclosure. This is going to work out very nice. I will still need to build several rock cribs but it will be much faster than trying to dig into the rock. I have 2000 lf of 2×6 tamarack to pick up from the wood mill and 800 bf of 1×12″x16′ for the barn siding. I plan on doin this on Friday.

Mr Experience kept on working on floor trim while we did the outside work. I had a coworker come out and borrow my disc set. It went onto my trailer with some difficulty but it got easier after Annmarie made me remove the 400# of iron weights from on top of the discs!

Annmarie and I had to go get our bull from the neighbors place. He keeps sneaking over there to say high to the heifers. Unbeknownst to us he has had already been over visiting three times before we found out. The neighbor had been pushing him back through the culvert to our side of the road.

He was at the top of the hill and would not budge for Annmarie. We were going to push him down to the road then across it and over through a gate and into our property. He had other plans, first of which was not moving for any human being. He was a despondent rejected bull and he was not going any where. I had to drive back and use both dogs to get him moving. He ran right for the panel that was covering the culvert from the opposite side. I ended up wading into the creek and lifting the panel. Annmarie swore he would not go by with me standing so close to the opening. Once he figured out I was opening the gate he went right around me. I had brought some tools and extra 1/4 inch cable to install across our side of the culvert and then weave it into the panel in an attempt to keep the bull on our side of the fence. This whole process took about an hour to get completed. The best part of this was when we held the barb wire apart and told Zeke to jump and he popped between the wires but Mouse did the same thing with some encouragement. This was a first for him and he loaded up into the back of the pickup by himself and stayed in the back of the pickup! All of these are great accomplishments for a working dog.

If you look closely you can see the wall for the bull enclosure going up. I will need to set at least 3 rock cribs in place to hold the fence in place.

I am going to keep having Mr Experience and muscles come out and work on trim. Muscles stacked some loose wood in the barn and greased the tractor and fixed my truck exhaust also. I took him up on his offer to fix things. I even ordered new blades for the mower and as soon as they arrive I will have him install them also.