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.
My helpers finished getting in the last two tons of hay into the barn this week. We managed to get one ton of grass hay just off of the area around the school house. Even with help and me doing the driving I was done last weekend by the time we got the hay into the barn. Mr CrossFit ran the weed eater and cleaned up the berry area. The grass and weeds keep growing back. We are going to lay down some ground cloth and cover it up to keep the grass and weeds down, eventually. It’s on the list but not a super high priority. It was time to shift gears and move on to the next project.
The front deck needs to be finished and TREX deck applied. I had all the TREX laid out by the house and thought I was ready to go. Friday morning, Mr Rainman came over to help, he unloaded the pickup with my daughter and then we went to town to buy more stuff for the deck. Another $1000 and we had more lumber and concrete blocks. We unloaded everything onto the yard pile and started in on making the deck underlayment. The price of TREX and building supplies is really high. I know I keep reading about it but a project I planned two years ago was going to cost $6k in materials and now is costing $10k in materials. It is crazy, I have had to shift some money I was saving for the old house remodel to the deck project. This is making the old house project look mighty lean!
We started to install the support framework. This did not go fast and we kept having to stop and take more measurements. The corner beam had to be moved in an inch. We had to stop, make adjustments and keep the width the same every time we moved forward. This sounds easy but it is a constant battle. We did not get very far on Friday. One of the beams had about 20% dry rot and had to be dug out, we ended up cleaning it out and filling the holes with concrete.
Saturday was the day to get completed! Mr Rainman came out and we started in again. I had him doing the cutting, which involved carrying and delivering the cut wood to the job site. I stayed in one place and hollered out measurements. We set posts for the railing, this involved digging a hole, filling with some gravel, setting the 4×4 concrete footing block then centering the block. Once we had the block centered we sandwiched the 4×4 with 2×6 pieces to keep it from moving then I even filled in the other two sides with wood and shims to lock it all into place so that there is no way the posts can come loose! It got hot on Saturday so Mr Rainman was in full force, we discussed the need to drink more water. Neither of us were drinking enough to pee every hour, but I was ahead. My wife was sticking her head out the front door and ensuring that my water consumption was sufficient. He was on his own.
That evening we went down and pushed the sheep up into the barn lot. The dogs did all the work, we just plodded along. Once we had the sheep into the barn we sorted off all of the babies. The youngest set of twins were not quite three months old. It actually went fairly smooth and we sorted off a nice big lamb for one of our customers. They took it home in a dog crate and Annmarie overhead the spouse telling their partner that “this one is food”. They now have two pet lambs from last year that are now no longer lambs. We pushed all the lambs over into the ram pasture but it is looking pretty eaten down, the sheep will need to be let up above into field #4 with the cows this week.