I have been working on getting the front porch done. I promised Annmarie that I would stop fencing, even though the weather is still good, to get the front porch finished. We have the stair railings and the the front porch gates still to complete. Now I did not install any of the railing, Mr Professional did so I felt like he needed to be present for the hand rails. He has been busy and unavailable but I managed to get him to come over for a few hours on Friday and Saturday. It was a good thing I waited for him. When I decided on upright 4×4 placement I did it to minimize the Trex cuts on the stair pieces. I did not know that according to the instructions you should put the support posts on the outer edge of the stairs. This is so that you can use the preset angles that Trex calculated for the stair railing 32-37 degrees. Since this little fact was overlooked for design and aesthetic reasons installing the stair railing was much more complicated than normal.
Using the template that was provided caused the railing to be too high and not match the porch railing. So we tried to alter the template. This did not result in the railings lining up. So then we tossed out the template and eye fitted the bottom railing in and marked the spots for the anchors. Once we had the bottom railing in and upright tubes in we had to cut the top railing but it was going to not fit correctly, the bottom post was too short for the angle. We had to use the Dewalt bandsaw. This is the single tool I did not want to buy this summer, and it has turned out to be essential when dealing with metal. We never could have gotten the rails cut correctly and even in place. We took the cut top rail, held it next to the poles and I used green tape to set the angle then just cut along the tape. It worked very well but it took us about eight hours to get two rails installed correctly and not cut my power cable to the two light poles as I ran the wires up the railing side. This would have been totally on me had we caught a wire. We reached down and stretched the wire tight in an attempt to move it out of the way when screwing in the railing anchors.
The gates that we are going to install are aluminum and have to measured and cut. We measured and cut them and then put them together, after tearing them apart twice we go them together correctly. The instruction sheet has eight steps and fits on one side of a normal piece of paper and has lots of pictures. They failed to tell you that the side pieces have to be held down as you predrill the holes or else the cover piece will not snap into place correctly, even if you use a file to knock it down. Also they failed to mention that you should use the silver screws that will be hidden under the trim and use the black colored ones for the corner angle pieces that are exposed. I now need to get some 3/4” black enamel sheet metal screws. So the gates are on hold until that happens.
We may have lost our bunny rabbits. We had two and have not seen a single one for over six weeks. They could have eaten hay out of the machine shed all winter so they could not die of starvation no matter how severe the weather. I think hanging around the machine shed may have been the cause of their demise as the owls like to hang out in there at night also.
Due to the amount of repairs and welding I have been doing I am going to rearrange the last bay in the machine shed. I am going to move all of the flammables away and move work benches so I can weld out of the rain inside the shop. This is a winter project. I need to finish getting the rest of the power and lights wired also. We are using the shop more and need to be able to do it in all kinds of weather.
As you can see I am hard at work raking the leaves with the same mower I use for the lawn. They have been in the yard all weekend. I put the dogs on the run and let the sheep in. The dogs don’t particularly like this arrangement and you cannot let our ankle biter dog out as Gizmo likes to ball the sheep up in a corner also. He thinks he is all tough and fails to realize that the big dogs have conditioned them to canine pressure.
I am trying to get the front deck done but it doesn’t seem like everyone else is cooperating. I called on my three pieces of TREX decking, still not in. My TREX railing connectors are still on back order. So we still don’t have stair railings.
I decided I needed to get the power situation figured out so it would not be dragging everything else behind. It is also one of the few things that I have to do and cannot have either one of my helpers do. The world did not make a lot of electricians. I spent Friday morning bringing out tools and piling them by the crawl space entrance to get underneath the porch. Once I had a bunch of tools I actually read the install instructions for all of the deck lighting. Yep, I needed more parts, I will have to install a plug in under the deck, not wire in the power source directly like I thought. It was a little more complicated than I thought. I don’t have a special splitter that I need and I need some 12V extension cables also. I don’t have a third plug and I needed a 3/4 to 1/2 conduit reducer also. I made the trip to Pendleton and got what I thought I needed. It takes about 2 hours to make a quick round trip so I usually try and buy as much as I think I will need to prevent another trip. I worked on getting the porch outlet installed on the upright beam. I had to drill a hole from above then crawl underneath the deck and drill upwards at a different angle in an attempt to connect the two tunnels. I did do it and was able to get the wire and box installed on the porch.
We have had some more lambs, so far we have had 3 ewes give birth this week to 4 lambs, only one mother had twins. I really want to let the new mothers and babies out into the ram pasture. We added that little gate so it could happen but Annmarie pointed out we still have downed fencing piled up in the middle of the field and it would trap and kill the lambs. It was on my list and has been there for 18 months, so I should probably increase its priority.
Annmarie finished canning our garlic that we grew, courtesy of our neighbor. This should be enough to last us the whole year. Then she made lamb shanks, root veggies and lentils for dinner. It was very good.
I picked up Mr I Need a Belt Bad this morning so he could help me wire. Now he isn’t going to do any wiring but yesterday I realized that it takes me ten minutes to just crawl out from underneath the porch if I have forgotten any single thing I need. I need a “go””fer” for those times I forget something. We pushed th sheep into the front yard first thing and placed the dogs on their runs so they could not get at the sheep when we were not looking. I crawled under the porch and started installing electrical conduit. I had Mr I Need a Belt Bad do the cutting and once he got the hang of it he did well. We did have to have a brief lesson on how to read a tape measure. Then there was a more insistent tutorial on how to compare fractions and find a common denominator. That lesson got reinforced randomly throughout the day. I was able to install and wire up all three outlets. The only thing left was the junction box underneath the porch that had the actual power supply. I just kinda tapped into a box under the house and did not mark which breaker it was. I flipped five breakers and crawled under the porch, I actually checked the hot wire with a voltmeter before cutting it with my dykes. It was still hot, so I wrote down those breaker numbers and flipped two more switches. This time when I checked there was no electricity. So its one of those two breakers. Once I have the lights installed I can mess with figuring out which breaker they belong to and get it labeled. While I did the final connection Mr I Need a Belt Bad dug out the front ditch in our yard.
We did stop for lunch. I had cheese and crackers and an apple picked from our orchard. It was cleanup time next, I put the forks on the tractor and came and forked up the loose wire and took it to the scrap metal pile. I put the bucket back on and brought gravel to our front yard so that every trip was productive. I had that ditch in front of the blocks we dug last week that needed to be filled in. We used the bucket to get more scrap metal from the ram pasture and from the old chicken coop clean out pile. We did three total trips with the bucket
The damn dogs laid there and let my hens and chick planter get decimated by the sheep. The dogs would not harass the sheep unless i told them to and I did not notice them eating my flowers! I moved my planter to another temporary spot that I think is sheep proof. I need to get the front rock wall done and then I can put a fence on top of it and keep the sheep out.
Mr I Need a Belt Bad did manage to get his pay figured out with some prompting and educational teaching tenacity. I am pretty sure that tomorrow will be spent inside the house doing some deep cleaning and dusting and washing of walls.
I had a plan today, it was going to be hay day. Well honestly, that was my second plan, my first plan was supposed to be cow day. Instead it turned into Fence day as my third plan. My first plan was good but when I woke up this morning there was going to be change because I could not do cows. I was way too sore to be working the cows. So since I was not going to be doing cows then my second plan was going into effect, Hay day. I need to move the old bales out of the machine shed and store them over by the grain bins. But to keep the alpaca off of them I need to move the round horse corral out to use as a fence. Then I need to clean out the hay area and move some plywood out of the way. But just as I was leaving the house Mr Rainman tells me that a calf is out again. We had one get out earlier in the week and I found a large hole in the fence down by four corners. So knowing there is a problem and believing that it has repeated itself we went to the third plan which was Fencing day.
Mr Professional was going to come out later and work on the porch railing a little later. Mr Rainman loaded up the bucket on the new tractor, “Companion” with fencing tools. He spotted the bunny! We had not seen it in over a week. We went down to four corners and proceeded to fix the hole in the fence. We ended up cutting all of the willow trees back and then I crossed the fence and cut them back about 6 feet back from the fence. We tightened the entire fence and then went in and hammered in new staples into the wooden stays and added the broken T-clips back onto the fence. It looked like a brand new fence. Mr Rainman was mistaken, the calf was not out of the outer fence enclosure, he just was not inside the fence with his momma. He was going to have to walk down to the open gate to get past the fence.
We then drove up to the top of the hill and then went down to the schoolhouse field to patch the woven fence that the cow jumped through last year. We ended up retightening the entire thing and pulling the top two wires together to remove several inches of slack from the fence. I decided that the only way to stop this from happening again was to add in T posts. I think this was the plan two years ago but I thought the all wooden fence would be aesthetically pleasing and the cows would respect it for this reason, I was wrong. We unloaded all the tools there since we were going to be coming back. We stopped at the ditch and reopened the ditch to flood irrigate the schoolhouse pasture. I was able to dig down and get it running. We then went back to the house, small stop to fill the tractor bucket with large rocks as we were going to come off of the rocky hillside to get T-posts anyways. We did not want to move an empty tractor. The rocks were moved to the front yard for the rock wall that needs to be completed. We grabbed more supplies and went back, installed the T-posts and then had to install the clips onto the posts. This seems like an easy job. If you have never applied fencing clips before you would think its easy and you would be wrong. Mr Rainman was given a tutorial and cut loose. In the time it took him to complete four posts I had 17 posts done! He ended up getting terminated from that task and went back to load up the tractor with tools. We got all of the obvious fence corrected. The top CRP fence really needs to be repaired and rebuilt.
Yesterday was the official return to home date after our stint at Church camp, I was the camp nurse and Annmarie was the camp chaplain. It was very relaxing, nothing to do, very little nursing work for me and we both got to take naps every day! Mother Nature could have turned down the heat some but it was so much better than the two weeks prior that I was not going to complain. We brought home 25# of black cherries I picked from an orchard in Cove and we are going to work on trying to eat them all in a week. It’s going to be a challenge but after we gave some out to the various family members so we should be able to do it.
As we were driving down the driveway we had a discussion about me needing to give the cows some more food. I really need to finish tagging that last calf and banding the one that got away. This will allow us to swap cows and sheep. We need to move the four cows in the upper field down to the lower pasture and all the momma, bull and calves and all of the sheep to the upper fields. I can open up field four so that the animals have access to filed #2-4. This should give them enough food for at least 8 weeks if not longer. This no rain or moisture weather is rough on pasture. My Mother-in-law called me this morning while I was picking up Mr Professional to also request that the cows get food today. We went out to get bales but the bucket on the old tractor was acting up and I could only tip the tractor bucket not raise and lower it. So we stopped, cleaned out the linkage, tore it apart, tightened a few spots and then lubed it all up so it works very well again. This will help Mr Rainman finish cleaning out the barn this week. I was able to pull bales out and push them to the cows below and the two stuck in Alcatraz.
Once that was done we dug holes in the front yard and concreted in the two end posts for our new stair railings. We then finished getting most of the substructure completed. We just need to get the outside railing in and the stabilizer boards between the decking boards installed. I need to focus on getting the house cleaned, curtains installed down in the craft room, and toilet paper holder installed in the upstairs bathroom. We have company coming on Saturday so we will need to be ready. I am driving on Friday to go pickup our new ram.
Sunday was the big day, Mr Rainman and I were going to finish the underlayment and get ready to lay TREX. This proved to be a futile thought as we just kept plodding along and could not seem to speed up. We had to undo a section and recut some pieces as we had subtracted 1/2’ due to the warp in the board. The pressure treated lumber is not ideal. It has more flaws than normal lumber and is still very expense. We need to keep the distance from the house to the outside of edge of the deck the same along the entire length of the deck. This is proving to be possible but not without a lot of attention and detail work.
We figured out today to get the overhang correct we needed to face the entire outside 2×10 with another layer of wood so there is a space around the beams we can attach the TREX. We watched another three videos today, figured out that we need some starter screws and some colored deck screws, neither of which came in our build kit plans. We opted out of getting the Butyl tape to go over the top of the pressure treated wood, our deck is covered and this was going to cost $500 for 20 rolls of 50 feet/each. There just has to be a limit. We saw the resident bunny rabbit out by the cars this morning. We tend to spot one every couple of years but they never seem to be able to reproduce in any large quantities.
We did not get done with the underlayment! We have about six feet left. The far corner again proved to be a problem. There was no attachment like the other side to attach the deck to the house. We had to run a board over to the stem wall. Mr Rainman dug out the corner near the house and go the concrete pillar positioned as close to the house as was possible. We then pinned it in place and blocked around it so there is absolutely no movement possible in the deck railing. I figure at least one more solid day on getting the deck prepped and the stairs may take another day also. I still need to purchase the riser/run pieces from the hardware store. We will have to set the lower posts into concrete to ensure they don’t move. I want to wait to dig the concrete until we have the riser/run supports installed.
Mr Rainman spotted a large rock chuck up on the hill but it was hiding in the rocks and I could not shoot it. I kept the 17HMR out in the yard just in case the rock chuck came back down to the ram pasture and greener grass. He did not come down, but eventually I walked up behind the machine shed and got a better angle and shot it. We are down five rock chucks near the house. I think there is at least one more.