Friday, August 18, 2017

Barn ready for winter!

The Padawan returned the next morning on Sunday. He again had cereal for breakfast and was fed egg scramble with potatoes, onions and sidepork. He ate it all, no hot chocolate for him but I had two cups of coffee. He was itching to get out to the barn and finish the feeders. I had done all of the board cutting and had him assemble all the pieces on the wall with occasional help and lots of verbal direction. If it was wrong or loose I just had him undo and redo it. It's a barn and we are reusing scraps and old wood. This just adds more character to the building. We had to start using several pieces instead of one piece as I was running out of long boards. Once the Padawan finished the feeders I had him dig in the second story of the barn for my leftover tongue and groove board I had used on the main floor. We needed to add a new floor to one of the hay rooms. The boards had broken and it was a safety hazard. I cut the boards and then had him screw them down. We had to float three pieces together then screw down one, add a new one etc. you have to do it this way or else you cannot add the new board. The tongue and groove will warp when you tightened the first board down. Leaving two free floating allows you to counteract this problem. While he screwed down the floor I worked on adding another board to the momma and baby area. They can still jump out!  The problem with this is the grain bin lever. You need to be able to reach it to open the gate. A higher enclosure would block access to the handle. My solution was pure brilliance, I reused one of the jug gates!!  I also stiffened the enclosure. 

I also fixed the sorting chute. The sheep kept jumping over the ends of the smaller chute section. I added a heavy wire panel over these bolted in place to bounce them back into the chute should they attempt to jump out. I used some scrap panels, scrap wood and an old metal grounding strip plus new bolts. I don't have a good selection of old bolts. Most of the old nails and bolts I sent out with scrap metal. It was too hard to keep track of them and they needed to be sorted. I had no time for that. 

We also set up our new corral system as a hay enclosure. Our large bales that don't fit in the machine shop will live outside. I think I can only fit 15 ton in the machine shop. 

We had lunch at 1216 today. The Padawan remembered and was rewarded with more food. Ham and cheese sandwiches again. 

Supposed to be fencing

It has happened again, I have started with another teenager. I had told his mother we would fence but by the time he arrived last Saturday morning I had changed my mind. I had managed to get the outside fence secured so the animals are not escaping. I really want to enclose the new upper prime squared area but it will take me 40-60 hours to complete that fencing. That is a huge time commitment for four acres. Instead, I voted on actually getting ready for winter. The young Padawan was dropped off at 0645 with his father apologizing for the early drop off. I told him no problem and did not tell him I usually make them start at 0500-0530 during the summer. The Padawan is only 14 so he cannot drive. 
I drug him inside the house and asked him what he had for breakfast, "cereal" was the succinct answer. I was cooking breakfast as I had expected him at 0700.  We were having fried side pork and fresh farm eggs cooked in same grease pool pan that the pork was cooked in. He denied hunger. I went on the presumption that he was a teenage boy and can eat any time no matter how soon a meal was completed. He drank hot chocolate while I finished. He didn't know what side pork was and he picked gingerly at his two eggs upon their sudden arrival in front of him. AnnMarie asked me if I had asked him if he even wanted food. I gave her the look "he is a teenage boy".  He tried the pork and eggs. By the time I finished my breakfast he had consumed all the food in front of him. He was very polite and even offered to rinse off his own dishes. AnnMarie gave him the requisite speech about making me stop for lunch when he got hungry or else we would work all day with no lunch! 

We went outside to knock down the tumbleweeds in our driveway. I asked him if he knew how to drive. He stated yes. I got into the passenger seat as a precaution. I was hollering for him to push the break in the first five seconds of vehicle movement. He was turning into the car parallel to the pickup. Next was teaching him to actually look over his shoulder when backing up not just saying a Hail Mary prayer and going for it!  This concept took quite a bit of prompting almost as only using the right foot for the gas and brake. He managed to get the pickup over to the burn pile without adding a new dent.  On the plus side, between the numerous dents, dings and peeling paint I am not sure a new one would be noticed. I finished dragging weeds over to the burn pile with the tractor while the Padawan walked around picking up hay bale strings. We tossed loose scrap wood onto the burn pile also. I tasked him with parking the pickup back near our other vehicle. I did encourage him to hit the brake and not crunch through my fence and down into the front creek when parking. He did fine. The farm pickup is no worse for meeting him. 

We went into the barn to get ready for winter. Since we will have another 21 sheep we needed more feeder space. We had agreed that the jugs needed to come out as we were using the momma/baby area instead of the jugs. We had lumber stacked on the jugs and had started to dissemble by the time I remembered to take a starting picture. The goal as always is to reuse as much as possible. I saved the intact gates. Those had come from the old lamb shed. A gate is hard to make and harder to make one that will last 40 years so I just store them for use in later projects. They are "barn ready and tested" which is vital when you actually use them. We got the jugs totally disassembled and then started building the wall feeders. I just build stuff!!  No plans just an idea in my head and then I just keep digging through the scrap piles to make old pieces usable again. I taught the Padawan how to use an impact driver. I only swapped out six new drivers the first day!!  He did remember lunch. We were inside by 1230 eating ham and cheese sandwiches. 
We finished after an 8 hour day and he was disappointed we had not finished and moved onto fencing. I chuckled and told him we were close and had accomplished more than I thought we would.  He seemed excited to come back the next day to finish up the project!  He is also the only teenager I have had help me who could read a tape measure and knew what was a T square. Bonus points for the Padawan!  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Phil's last fencing day

I have been saving broken off T posts for some occasion. I was unsure of what exactly that occasion would be but I figured I would find a use eventually. Here is the use, I pounded in three posts to keep the barn wall from sliding off the rock again. 

The bull managed to push through the fence in the corner. He ripped out the panel and pushed out a board. I had only held the panel in place with staples. This time we lowered the board and screwed it in with long Fastenal anchors. We added a second board across the top and wrapped wire around the ends of the panel so it cannot be lifted or pulled away again. 

Phil came out to help on Saturday. The goal was to get the rest of the upper prime pasture enclosed and secured so we can let animals loose. The goal is everyone staying in place. We worked for nine hours and got all the outer fence secured. AnnMarie had told me there was another hole in the far corner. I was not convinced but we drove the whole fence to be sure. Guess who was right?  Yep the wife scores again. The cows had done the same thing for a third time!  Picked a corner and pushed out a panel. I again had only bent nails over to hold the panel in place. I used 3 inch staples on both sides and we wired the panels to the posts so they cannot be lifted even if the staples get popped out. We had to tighten one more back section of fence. I had added T posts and I the back section a couple of years ago but it looks like I need to add more. The main pasture is ready. We just need to sort the cows again. 

Damn bull!

Well Friday was spent fixing stuff!  The bull was tired of being in a pen. He started throwing a fit and managed to knock the corner of the milkshed off its rock corner. Now in his defense gravity was the only thing keeping that corner on said rock. AnnMarie let him out of the pen so she could load the sheep up on Thursday. He promptly ran out into the barn lot and magically got out to be with the female cows. There is now another hole in the fence that will need help I be repaired.  I used the little tractor and tried to lift the corner up. No go it is over the 800# weight limit so I piled two pallets into the bucket and then tipped the bucket once it wouldn't lift any more. The tilt hydraulics don't have a governor so they will move regardless of weight!  This allowed me to lift it a couple of inches so I could get the wall back on the rock. I will need to pound in some stakes to prevent this from happening again. I had been meaning to put in stakes anyways. 

Since the bull was out this necessitated me repairing all the lower fence as quick as possible. So I loaded up the tractor with supplies and tooled on down toward the school house. I found a hole in the fence I did not know about. 
The cows had decided to make their own decisions about where to eat and my wishes were being ignored. I ended up adding a new wire and restretching and attaching the fence to the rock crib again. I tried to add a T post but I kept hitting rocks so I added another wooden stay. There was a roll of barn wire there so I used it. I remembered why I only use smooth wire. The stuff is horrible to handle and the animals don't seem to care if it's smooth or barn wire they treat it the same. It was very hot outside. 

The cow hole is now repaired but I had been told there was an opening down by the schoolhouse and this one was just an added bonus. 

Down by the schoolhouse there was a 20 foot section I had only stretched woven wire across. I thought the animals could not get to it due to the hillside. I was wrong. So I stretched three more strands and added some wooden stays. This should hold them I hope. All this took me six hours to repair. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Million dollar man fences

Sunday afternoon AnnMarie and I went to pickup a bunch of used fencing and animal supplies. We won't use it all up immediately but there are several gates and a bunch of cow panels that will get used eventually. I like using them as rock cribs. The only real problem is they have to be entirely filled to the brim with rocks. It's a lot of rocks!!  It was hot again. When we got home I unloaded the trailer. I inadvertently committed the trailer to be used in a parade next month. Which means I need to get the lights fixed, the license plate holder mounted, the fenders stiffened and the ramp holder lock replaced. So today after fencing I dropped it off at the welding shop so the repairs can be done. I will have enough time to hit it with a can of black spray paint to make it look fairly pretty. There is nothing I can do to make the pickup look pretty. 
The pickup does need some brake work and a new muffler. So this week I will work on getting the pickup repaired. 

The million dollar man came out to help me fence today. He would say he is only a $100k man but what are a few zeros between friends?  
We spent five hours fencing today. I taught him how to attach wire clips to woven wire. We spent the entire five hours clipping wire up to preinstalled T posts. There is another 16-20 hours of fence clipping necessary. I am working on enclosing a new section of ground so the animals will have a new grazing area. 

On the way back to the house I noticed that one of the trees/large bushes was covered in little round yellow things. I thought it might be apples. None of the trees in the upper prime pasture had ever produced fruit. Turns out it is a type of blonde plum and it's not ripe yet!  It needs another 1-2 weeks. The tree is absolutely loaded with plums. I will be watching it closely so we can pick some when they are dead ripe. I want to make a few containers of freezer jam out of them. Plus, I want to eat them until I get sick. I suspect all the rain this year allowed the tree to flourish. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

It's hot and late July is perfect fencing weather

Yesterday, Phil came out to hit it hard and get that horse area finished. I had managed to get in a good six hours of rock picking in on Friday and we still had more to go. I did get the furthest run from the house completed. This is where the metal hanging gate was going to be attached. I had a brand new green gate and an old painted blue one. The green one is for the machine shed but I opted to use it instead of the blue one. The blue one has peeling paint and needs another coat of paint. Not anything I am going to do soon. Since it is visible from the house I opted to go with the pretty one for asthetical reasons. The blue one will go some where far from the house where no one will car that it has peeling paint. I hung the gate and blocked off the small gap between the gate and the barn with a couple of vertical 2x6 boards. Once hung I had to cut a woven panel to wire to the gate. I don't buy the straight small animal gates as they are more money. Besides for $25 I can add panels to any gate. The price savings is worth it. 

Phil had to collect around 12 loads of rocks. One trip he asked me if I had heard him screaming I said no. Apparently he had overturned a rock with a hornets nest under it and they took offense. He said he had ten of them hanging on his shirt when he took it off he managed to not get stung! We kept filling in rocks. It was like a black hole of rocks, just when you thought it was full more rocks would fit. 
Next up I needed to drive four T posts into the ground. Oh boy, I managed to get three pounded in and my failure we moved I've a foot and Phil managed to get it pounded in. It rotated almost 90 degrees due to some rocks. It was good enough. We stretched out some old woven wire and the three pieces of old barn wire that were there before. Next up was a short stretch on top of the rocks on the up hill side. I opted to use the old version oven wire section we had just removed. It is about 8 inches shorter than the woven wire I used everywhere else. This height difference caused me some decorative issues later. When we ran the woven wire across the horse area and over to the gate I noticed that the wooden upright posts were still a little loose. So I decided to use some 2x6 boards across the top. I still have some left over from the unit of wood I purchased two years ago. Once we saw how much that reinforced the fence we put it everywhere!!  I put it six inches above the woven wire. Hence the problem, one measly section was shorter which caused an asthetic disalignment for practical reasons. I was informed that this discord would need to be corrected when the foreman went out to look at our progress. 
We spent ten hours out in the heat and got everything done but the asthetically pleasing additions necessary to complete the job. My big mistake was in not moving the new kitchen table into the house after lunch. I was so tired and sore it felt like I had been caned everywhere from the waist up and we had to carry 175# table set into the house from our driveway. Not a small feat and one that threw me over into perpetual agony for the night. 
I will get the fence fixed in the morning.