Front porch actually looks like a porch!

Well, I think the porch might actually get done despite everything. Mr Rainman, Mr Professional and I spent all of Friday working on getting the outside edge boards cut and installed. This did not go smoothly or well. Mr Rainman also worked on laying in some gravel footings under the fascia boards so we can start installing block to fill the gap. We don’t want the dogs crawling under the porch and digging holes. Honestly, we don’t want any animal doing this so the only way to stop this is to limit access. We were able to find blocks fairly reasonably at the end of the outdoor yard season so it was $600 for block.

We took off all of the sheet metal around the pillars and raised up the wooden casing. The pillars will need to be painted with Kilz before we reinstall the sheet metal. We had to start counting boards, it turned out that I did not order enough edging. So then we had to start to figure out how to use the pieces as efficiently as possible to get the job done. We went to a double measure rule and finally after I hollered and ranted for a wrong cut then started doing the cutting myself and promptly screwed it up again we went to a two person independent measure on space then board before anyone could cut anything. This managed to stop the mistakes but we only managed to get the outside boards installed all day. We had to take up the wow in the front using a string line and it just went on and on. It was so frustrating and so necessary to make it look good.

Saturday Mr Rainman and Mr Professional laid out all of the decking and got it cut to fit the entire porch. Yep, I did not order enough decking either. Now in my defense we used the TREX deck estimator tool online. But I did not insert exact measurements and the calculator does not add 10%. You must add 10%, because there will be mistakes. I now have to order three 16’ boards, it should take a couple of weeks for them to get here.

I worked on getting power from under the house to under the deck. I had to make another trip to town to get a waterproof box. When I crawled under the house I found a bunch of loose wires I had not nailed up. I think I had plans for that but they got waylaid and no one voluntarily crawls under the house. I spent some time nailing up all of the electrical wires and then nailed up the new wire to the deck. I had 7 breakers off to make sure that I did not have to crawl back out. Once I get the right breaker figured out I will mark the panel so we know exactly what breaker controls the front porch. After talking to Annmarie I am going to install two separate outlets on the porch, one on the outside far edge by the crawl space entrance and the other on one of the pillars so you can charge your electrical device while sitting on the porch. We needed power for the lights that will be installed on the stairs. We are getting old and need to be able to see the stairs.

Mr Rainman had to leave early to go home and do some dog catching. Mr Professional pulled Mr I Need a Belt Bad from cutting thistles in the orchard to helping him install decking then install insulation against the house. I finished up the insulation after he left and we cleaned up. On Sunday Mr Professional finished the entire deck install. I had hung some of the cross piece substructures too low so he had to cut and lower some of the boards to make the deck solid. It looks and feels great!

Alpaca day!

I am a week behind, as I was too tired to post again. I always wonder if I should just skip it and ignore the day, but it really did happen and it shows how things are not always under your control so I decided to just finish it before starting this week’s post.

Mr Rainman came out on a Friday so we could get the alpaca sheared. This takes a full day and I had sent in all of the blades to be sharpened so we should have been ready. We moved all of the alpaca into the barn lot and then got the shearing table all setup. Power moved out to the barn and then Annmarie came out. She was busy in the house. Of course the easiest alpaca to catch was Snoop. He is the most laid back and tame of the bunch, they all like women better than men as my mother-in-law hand feeds them treats every day. The wife and daughter do it occasionally also, I do it once to twice a year, I don’t count. We got him in next to the table and up onto it and stretched out and tied down. We took 30 minutes to trim his feet till they were all pretty and functional, no curled toes. It was time to shear, well I thought I had ordered ceramic cutting blades but I only had metal ones. I prefer the ceramic ones as they last longer and seem to work better for me. This was a huge understatement. I could not get the damn shearing blades to adjust correctly. I tried everything. The blades were new and sharpened and I could not get them to cut. I managed to get the saddle portion off of Snoop but that was it. I promptly ordered the ceramic blades and will be using them when they come. I had the blades so tight that the heat was too much. When i backed off the tension I could not get them to cut. It was weird. My once a year, three years running experience does not exactly make me an expert.

We gave up and turned them loose and went back to the front porch. We had to install stay boards between every step as the pressure treated boards were warping on their own. It has been crazy doing the porch as all of the new lumber has not what I would call great quality. It has warped within 2-3 weeks after getting unbanded, every single piece! So we installed and straightened as best we could to keep the boards from shifting more. The TREX doesn’t have any structural strength so the boards need to stay in place and the TREX can just sit on top and look pretty.

Mr I Need a Belt Bad spent the day cleaning out the chicken coop. It took him two days and it had not been done in 2 years. Covid killed my activity level and it just did not get done. He disturbed the chickens enough that they spent two days hollering at him for invading their space. We had to discuss attention to detail items a few times, typical of a teenager.

Annmarie and I are seeing quail everywhere! If the baby quail survive our population should increase by a factor of 5-8. It will be amazing, I am hoping for at least a couple of hundred quail on the farm after this year. It is official we do actually have two rabbits on the place. This may lead to more rabbits, we will see. In the past this has just led to the owls eating rabbit.

TREX deck progress made today

We had a lot of stuff going on today and were able to make some serious progress. Mr I need a Belt Bad came out and finished up the chicken coop. He got the back room vacuumed and all of the old poop out and moved the bedding around so that there is a bed of fresh pellets on the floor for the chickens to make a mess in. I also got rid of the grass seed that was stored in a bucket in the back room. I spread it all over the ram pasture as the mice had been making a mess in the room and eating the grass. Once I had it spread out on the ground the chickens started to eat it. No one understands it is supposed to stay there on the ground.

Mr Rainman came out at 0700 and we started setting up all of the tools to work on the front porch. By 0730 Mr Professional had shown up and we started in on the front deck. We ended up putting a couple of yards of gravel under the deck to keep down the dust and provide some drainage. Once that was done we started in on separating out TREX and figuring out what to do next. We started on installing the fascia. I had purchased this special tool and plugs so you could hide all of the screws. It was laborious but it turned out really nice and I only complained for an hour about the $1/screw price. It takes two people to install and move the TREX as it is incredibly flexible and it is possible to break it. We did not break any today but we had laid it all out on the South side of the house so the TREX was absorbing the sun on a 93 degree day and it was hot to the touch!! It made cutting and moving it difficult unless you were wearing gloves. I was the only one wearing gloves. Not for the heat, I took a chunk out of one finger yesterday with the impact driver and did not want to bleed on all the decking while we worked again, so I had gloves.

We did the stairs next and of course there was a bow in the middle of the stair. We managed to hide it with some creative spacing and it all turned out well. The stairs are all done now but there is a large dust spot at the bottom of the stairs. This is due to the bushes we removed and then the weeds we killed and then the continual beat down the area has received. This is causing a 1/4” of dust to be conveniently placed at the start of the stairs so all of that dirt can be tracked directly into the house. This is going to need to be addressed at some point soon.

Mr Professional and Mr Rainman are returning tomorrow to work on the deck while I am at the paying job. We only have 6.5 boards left for the outer edge and it will take 6 to finish it so there is no margin for error. I am wishing them well now. My reaction may be different tomorrow.