Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tractor arrived

It is here!  The tractor arrived this morning.  It was all clean and shiny upon delivery.  I had to work on the trailer all day, but I just couldn't help myself so I jumped on the tractor and took it for a spin.  The mower was attached so I fired it up.  It worked great but boy there was a dust cloud.  Luckily for me I was driving into the wind toward the cattle guard.  The only problem with that is I turned around to go back.  I was covered in dust and couldn't hardly see, finally had to shut down the mower.  For future reference, if mowing in the Summer I will need a dust mask and goggles.  So the tractor is no longer clean, it is filthy.

I managed to get the trailer all cleaned out, rearranged and emptied of most unnecessary items.  I had to go in to the tractor place to sign the contract.  Just under $20K for everything and no interest for 5 years.  A sweet deal.  Came inside the house once it got too dark to see and listened to our answering machine messages.  It was the tractor place thanking me for signing everything but they need my $2K check.  In all these discussions I don't recall us having to put any money down. When Annmarie got home I asked her if she knew about the $2k down?  It was a surprise to her also.  So tomorrow I have to cough up $2k for the down payment.  It is doable, but I would have saved expressly for the down payment that I didn't know about.  On a more positive note our payments will be just under $300/month.   Not sure why I expected to be able to just buy it without any down payment, but I did.

The sheep were out again today.  Only four this time, the lead ewe her baby twins and her 10 month old daughter.  I cannot figure out how they are getting out, everyone else was stuck inside.  I did go over and mess with the fence over the creek, there is no gap now.  I let the four sheep back in to the ram pasture and hopefully this stops them from getting out.

I let the baby chickens out of their pen today.  They didn't come out but I gave them the option of it for when they are interested.  It will take them about a week to become brave enough to wander around the house.  We could use some more bug eaters.  I also spotted three tiny brown eggs so the Brahma's may even be laying some eggs themselves.  I will have to add them in to the chicken hen laying count.

Tractor anticipation!

Today is the day!!  The tractor comes today.  So nice.  This is going to be like hiring a farm hand.  I can talk to it, feed it (gas), cloth it (wash it off), house it (park under cover) and it will be around forever just doing the things that need done.  I expect it to practically work by itself.  I am stoked!!  This will speed up lots of jobs and give me that third hand and second back when needed.  It will be here in 2.45 hours.

Monday, August 22, 2011

fencing continues

Big surprise but the sheep got out again today.  The barn lot and ram pasture is secure.  The child left a gate partially unlatched and the sheep pushed through into the orchard.  The orchard had two major holes that I knew about.  The gate and under the fence near our little foot bridge.  I plugged those with panels and then went inside the orchard.  The far back corner is a mess.  It is falling apart and the sheep were just stepping over it.  A very worn trail showed where they were going through.  I patched that section and then 30 feet away where the creek had created a new path there was a one foot gap under the fence.  I patched that.  I did a lot of patching.  The far corner is most likely going to have some concentrated attention before the year is out.  On a very positive note I found a use for the wagon.  I mounted a bar across it and have my spool of fencing wire attached so I can just pull as much wire as I need.  All the tools and nails needed for fencing are kept in the rest of the wagon.  Very cool use for the wagon.

Sheep work done

Well Annmarie got us up early and the two of us went out to wrangle the sheep this morning.  We herded them into the corral and the fun began.  Sarah was visiting with her cousins so she was missing out on all the action.  We needed to tag them all, blue tags for boys and red tags for girls.  All the tags had numbers so we could track the sheep's production.  Some of the boys needed to be banded and a few of them still needed to be wormed.  Annmarie was catching the sheep and I was inflicting all the pain on the sheep.  The trouble with this is I am not experienced.  So I was learning as I went.  We would herd the sheep into the sorting chute and then catch them to administer their punishments.  The problem is the sheep are fast.  I was trying to catch this little twenty pound sheep (grasshopper) with a pair of tag pliers in one hand.  Annmarie kept hollering at me to drop the pliers and catch the lamb.  The trouble is the sheep are like little jumping beans.  The damn lamb kept jumping up to my shoulders trying to get by, Annmarie was hollering and I was laughing so hard the lamb got away.  I ended up on the ground rolling around.  It took us just over an hour to get every one through.

So this afternoon I am out moving the sprinkler and I noticed that one of the Baker girls had already torn out her ear tag!!  How are we going to track the births if we cannot keep everyone tagged?  So we are going to take pictures and place them in the computer program to track the sheep.  Who knows how this is going to work.

Tools of the trade.

Sheep after the wrangling

Sheep with new tags

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Estate sale finds

We went to two estate sales today.  The first one we went to was to look at some furniture.  It opened at 0800 and I was afraid the early birds would snap up all the good stuff.  But there was a line when we showed up and they were just opening up the garage doors as we headed that way from our parking spot.  We divided forces for a quick look see and grab.  I snagged some dies (for making threads on metal), a hand planer and a large hand drill base.  I have one base but this one is larger and nicer.  We met back up in the living room, snagged a few books and some beautiful pie crimped pottery bake ware.  We paid for that stuff and made a second pass.  I netted an old post hole digger (in our bid to be cheap, modern post hole diggers don't have enough steel in the walls and the tips bend over easily when you hit rocks.  Old ones have thicker walls and can take a lot more of a beating.)  I also snagged a hole aligner (I know there is a proper name for this tool, but I just don't know it.) (It looks like a prybar but one end has a 3 inch 90 degree prying end and the long straight part is round and tapers to a narrow point.  You work the point end into a hole you are trying to line up and then start reefing and beating it with a hammer to get the holes to line up.  I need one and did not have one.)  We paid for this stuff and then made a third pass.  Sarah and I found a tiny glass jar with a 1955 penny in it.  They had to blow the glass around the penny.  She paid $5 for it!!  I found a metal ceramic bed pan and paid $10.  Go figure.  We ended up with one more book and then headed off to the second estate sale.  Someone at this sale had asked Annmarie if she had been to the other one and then told her where it was.

The second estate sale had more stuff.  The previous owner had collected hand wood working tools.  He had wood planes from the 1890's.  There was a #40 plane that was three inches wide and over two feet long for $40.  I almost bought it, but the agreement is tomorrow is 50% off day and we will check first thing and I get it if it is still there.  I did not get any.  I was hoarding my money.  There was at least $400 in tools on the table.  Not what they were worth but what they were marked for sale. I did snag four pipe clamp setups for $5 each.  I need about another 4 pipe clamps and some longer pipes to fill out my clamp section.   I found some tea towels, tried on some jackets but they did not fit.  Annmarie found some small camping cookware for us.  They had a Craftsmen table saw in the back yard.  It had a locking fence that you screwed down so the fence did not move (Trust me, I locked it and beat on it with my fist violently).  It had all the parts 10 inch blade.  The table is all steel and about three feet wide with pipe sticking out for more extensions.    I was holding out for the spendy table saw but Annmarie doesn't want me to put off any more projects.  My current excuse is we don't have a table saw good enough to do finish work on (which was true till today).  So Annmarie persuaded (as only a wife can do) to settle for this now and to get the old house cleaned out and wired so I can start building some nice furniture grade stuff for the house (plus she gets window trim with this also).  She really wants the windows to have trim in them.

I need to be fencing but it is too hot.  I went out to the barn and dug out the corner of the second hay room.  I moved absolutely everything and dug it all out and threw it out the barn door.  The far corner had almost three feet of dust, bird poo and alfalfa dust.  It looks much better. After further review of the main part of the barn I think that only two ten foot sections of floor will need to be replaced.  This will cut down on the costs for the barn dramatically.  I would like to get the doors cut in to the other hay storage section and the door cut into the future tack room (now grainary).
Hay storage area entrance from barn side.

Sorting chutes leaned up on end for storage after cleaning it out.

Hay storage area looking toward barn entrance.

Pile dug out of the barn.

First thing in the morning we are going to corral the sheep.  Then we are going to tag them all (boys get blue and girls get red), worm the half that didn't get it earlier in the year, band the boys that need it (five I think), peel off the wool on the one ewe that is too lazy to rub it off and I want to weigh the largest whether to see if he is over 80#.  Would like him to be around 90# for slaughter.  I have two customers waiting for the next available lambs.  I also need to start thinking about laying in some hay for Winter.  Especially, since I have a nice cleaned out area available.

I will come back after Annmarie has fixed our computer and add in some pictures of the hay room.  On a side note, I do have the sheets for the chicken financials for the last two months and once the computer is fixed I will complete those and post them.  They are going to be depressing so I have been subconsciously avoiding them.

Monday, August 15, 2011

sheep love to get out

Well the sheep were once again outside the fence.  Annmarie saw them wandering around outside the fence so she let the last few stragglers out to join the escape artists.  The only real bad part of this is the boy sheep have decided that rubbing their horns on the tire wells of the new cars is the best way to itch your horns!!  Now as you might have guessed this is not very good for the paint job on said cars.  Not sure what to do in the Spring when I actually want them to run around out where the cars are parked.  Thinking I may have to install a parking perimeter fence.  This is a problem for next year.  Of course the sheep did poop on my new bridge. It had to happen sooner or later, but I would have preferred later.  Annmarie, Sarah and I counted the sheep after we chased them all back into the ram pasture (more like steal the lead ewe's babies and wait for them to cry and lead momma to the pasture).  We did get some cuddle time with the babies during this herding/leading event.  They are so tame and cute.  We all counted sheep and Annmarie and I counted 22, Sarah came up with 21.  So once our ear tags arrive we will run them through the chute, tag, weigh, deworm and castrate (those that dun need it!) everyone.  We will have a totally accurate account at that point.  I thought we were at 20.  So I was off anyway.

I went and checked on the tractor today.  It rolls into the dealer's on Wednesday, but still needs the bucket installed they won't deliver every thing to the house until 24th or 25th of this month.  I cannot wait until this thing gets here.  I expect it to be a labor multiplier for me!  I did go buy some more door hinges for the barn today.  I am really getting excited about finishing that thing up and putting it back in service with all the improvements.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

general farm chores, irrigation specs

I went out and finished the Orchard pasture fence (almost).  I installed a couple more panels over the front creek so the sheep could not just jump across and head out.  The metal fence stays needed to be installed for half the fence, so I did that while I was over there.  The only thing left on that fence (besides repairing all the old fencing) is to install the people gate at the far end.  I have the people gate, I just need to get down there with it and get it installed.  I also want to drop a couple of boards across the front creek so you can cross over down there.

Since I was out and about I went down to check on the irrigation pump and pipe.  I had talked to Annmarie about installing rolled poly from the pump all the way around the outside of the property.  I was told that if we are going to pressurize it then we needed to use rigid pipe.  Well three inch rigid pipe goes for $1.68/ft.  That is crazy and then I still have to dig the channel and bury the stuff, install risers and then blow it out in the winter.  No thanks.  So Annmarie suggested that I just use the aluminum pipe that is on the property.  I always thought it was pretty beat up, but I went down and looked at it.  I can get 30 decent 40 ft sticks of 3 inch piping.  So for those laymen, I can run 1200 feet of pipe or almost a quarter of a mile (100 feet short, 3 more sticks).  This is a lot of pipe.  The only thing we will need to purchase is a few 3 inch T's and some more end caps.  I could not find any fittings for the pipe.  I will need to get a couple more boards for the irrigation pump to sit on, the ones that are currently holding the pump and motor out of the water have holes and are rotted.  The replacement boards need to be 3 in thick x 12 in wide x 9 ft long and I need two of those.  I have decided to use the blog as a record for different things so I will be putting in some facts that we can return to later for our purposes.  The irrigation pump is a Rainflow model 1.5W-5-2 serial# 6518 5 7/8.  The motor is made by Cornell Manufacturing Co in Portland, OR  it is a GE induction motor.  The starting number on the electical meter is 41007 (we are not sure how much it is going to cost us to run the pump for the entire summer).  I chased four different baby deer and one mother deer out of the lower pasture on the way to the sprinkler pipes.  They all had spots still.

I went to the barn next.  Not sure why I felt the need to get out there and measure everything today.  Annmarie and Sarah are at school most of the day and I was on my own.  After working on the barn this weekend I am stoked to get it back in working order.  I went out with a tape measure and actually measured the rooms in the barn.  We had always been guessing at the size of the barn.  I have clarity now.  The barn is approximately (all measurements are subject to 1 -2 foot differences, there are three walls inside with each one being 6-8 inches wide) 65 feet long and 40 feet wide (2600 square feet), the walls are 18 feet high with the roof peak at 25 feet.  About half the barn was used as hay and grain storage that section is 22 feet wide with 18 feet walls and a 25 foot peak.  The animal section of the barn is a lean-to affair attached to the 18 foot wall and extending out almost 22 feet. The outer wall has the lowest walls and those are around 8 feet tall.

 The grainary is located on the front of the tall section and is composed of three rooms in a 20 ft long by 22 ft wide section.  That space is divided in half with the larger half being near the center of the barn (Annmarie's future tack room and storage room for sheep tools).  The dimensions for this room are 8.7 ft wide x 13.75ft long.  The other half of the grainary has two silos, the smaller silo is about 25% of the space and is located on the two outside walls.  I have no idea what we are going to do with an L shaped room.  We talked about leaving one of the grainaries intact in case we decided to start feeding grain in the future.  I found a couple of grain augers and one of them is electric.  These rooms have cable running through them in both directions to prevent the walls from moving.  I am going to take out about half of the cables but think I should leave the others.  The barn is still standing because it is over built. It has far more lumber in it than is needed, but I don't want to be the cause of its downfall.  I want to add a roof to the 50% grain bin around 8 feet off the floor.  I figure I can use the concrete forms (leftover in old grainary) (2ft x 8 ft made out of 2x4 and faced with 3/4 inch plywood) as a ceiling/floor.  I will bolt the forms together and have them sitting on 2 x 8s.  I want to store my extra lumber above the tack room but now that I think of that it does sound risky.  How about I store the lumber in the L shape grainary?  That sounds much better.  I will still put a roof on the tack room and some stairs leading up to it but I will put something else up there.  We could store all the other barn stuff that is scattered throughout the farm.

The next room in the tall section of the barn is a hay storage room.  It is 18 1/2ft wide by 22ft long.  There is a 7.5ft x 5.75ft section missing out of the front corner for an access room to the hay and grain.  I think I will take out this or shrink it down.  This room has no outside access.  It still needs a door put in.  Unfortunately, I have to take out a large beam to add a door.  I have resigned myself to this fact already.  Otherwise, getting hay in here is going to be very very labor intensive. This one room can hold over 900 bales of hay if I take out the little access room.  Rough guess of 24 bales to a ton that is about 38 ton per hay storage room or 76 ton for the barn.  More if I stored hay above the tack room in that space I have not used up yet!  Maybe 90 ton if I stretched it.  I have plans for putting up a walkway above the animals to store hay so that you can just walk along and cut open hay bales and drop it down a chute to have it show up in the sheep feeder.  So morning feedings would be a 15-20 minute affair even for a few hundred sheep (FYI 2% of animal's weight must be fed daily during winter.  Our sheep weigh about 120# or 2.4 pounds of feed per each sheep.  So 100 sheep would need to be fed 240 pounds of feed or approximately 3 bales of hay).  I figure I can store about 60 bales on the walkway, so I will only need to wrestle the hay monthly.  So I would need to feed for 4-5 months out of the year, for guesswork I will use 140 days for the length of winter.  For every 100 sheep I would need 420 bales of hay to get through the winter.  So the barn could hold enough hay for 400 sheep but with babies and such I would say no more than 300 ewes or 1260 bales (51tons of hay) or about $6000 in feed.  I kinda got off on a tangent there.

The other hay storage room is 18.5 ft wide by 22.5 ft long.  There is a smaller overhang in this room of approximately 4ft x 8 ft long against the inside back wall.  These little overhangs were built because the hay used to be dropped loose from the ceiling through the turbinators and settle onto the floor.  This made it possible to go into the room and just pitchfork from the opening.  Otherwise, you could not open a gate to get into the room.  The two hay storage rooms have a dividing wall that goes all the way to the low rafters (18 ft).

The animal section is 21.5 ft wide x 65 ft long.  It has a small corner missing near the granaries of 6.5 ft wide x 20 feet long.  I think I will shrink that space up and add the stairwell here to get up to the overhead feeding system.  I still need to add some windows for lighting purposes.  Once I get all the openings closed back up again it is going to be dark in the barn.  I have been collecting old windows for just this purpose.

I did manage to get the new chicken butler installed today.  I was sent a replacement for the first one not working.  The guy has already made several new improvements to the door in the last three months.  I have it set so the door opens in the morning when the light sensor senses light, but the door only closes at night by the timer I have set.  This solves lots of problems, now we will see if it works.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Barn catching up done also

The bridge went up so fast that we had extra time to kill on Sunday.  So we worked on the old barn.

These were the windows that let in the rain and snow onto our
hay during the last two Winters.  They need to be fixed.

I also want a doorway so I can load hay directly
into the barn from the barn lot.

 I needed to fix the upper storm window doors so they can keep out the snow and rain from getting inside and damaging the hay.  I also wanted a way to load hay directly into this room without having to drag it through the barn.  I wanted to install a glass window also, but in the end decided to just hang a rug over the window opening until I have leveled the barn.  Otherwise the window could break when I start jacking up the floor.  The only real problem with this is that I did not have enough hinges for the new barn doors.  So we scavenged some hinges and a latch from one of the old granary doors (Doug just screwed the door in place so it no longer works)(it is a side door that was never used anyway).  I dug around the old house and found three smaller hinges.  So we decided to use the three smaller hinges on one side and the larger two on the other door.

Using the sawsall, Doug cut out the slots for the hinges and I installed them from the outside.  He framed the doors inside and then when they were all framed out he cut around everything with the saws all!!  Wallah, instant doors.  It is the quick way to build doors.  Not very neat, but as I kept telling everyone it is the barn and it just needs to work and keep the weather out.  I don't have the time or money to make everything perfect.

Completed door, fixed shutters and covered window with weighted rug.

  Doug had to leave so the teenager and I finished repairing the upper window shutters, cleaned out the dirt, straw and owl crap that was piled up in the corners.  In places it was 10 inches deep.  It was nasty and dusty.

Clean barn room ready for hay!

  We then covered up the window with an old rug.  This is a cheap way to cover windows and trap in heat.  Now I just need some hay...

New doors in side of barn.  I wanted to add the latch inside but it would not hold the doors closed
they gaped open so I had to install the horizontal boards to account for the warp factor
in the vertical boards.  It turned out good. 

Completed work

The doors really do work. 

bridge Building day 5 or 10 depends on your viewpoint

Reminder, this is the old bridge.  It definitely needed to be replaced.

Yep, I have been very busy and am now dramatically behind in my posts.  I will endeavor to catch up and bring everyone up to speed.  The weekend is over and it was incredibly productive.

On Friday, I had my teenage paid help (non-daughter) come out to help me set up, cut and sort wood.  We spent eight hours sorting wood off the truck, making lots of piles for different parts of the bridge, cutting boards to length and ripping other boards to measured widths.  We even managed to put one whole beam together before it got dark.  A very productive day.  This set the tone for the next day on Saturday.

Piles of pieces ready for installation on the bridge.

 I had three people helping me out this day.  It took two people almost 1.5 hours just to assemble the second beam.  Moving a 42 foot beam made out of 2x10''s is not easy.  Once it starts to bend back and forth it is almost impossible to hold onto.  Having to cross the creek with the beam did not make things easier.  Of course we ended up having to trim both beams in place as they were too long to fit.  By noon we had just managed to place both beams and had been at it for five hours already.  I was not certain we were going to get it done over the weekend let alone that day.

Tread going on, we were breaking for lunch at 1300

You can see the pressure treated beams we made.  Boy was that some
crooked warped wood.  We ended up putting four cross pieces
in to stiffen the side to keep them from bowing.  I had originally
only made plans for two cross pieces. 

We measured the bridge corner to corner after installing the beams.  Now mind you the beams were each 42 feet and 2 inches long, same for each beam.  Not so much when you measured corner to corner.  One corner was three inches longer than the other!!  It never occurred to me to check this dimension when I was building the concrete forms.  A definite newbie mistake.  Luckily, one that is easily corrected by just scootching the board a little wider on one end.  It worked and you cannot tell just by looking that we fudged the distances.  By the time we got to the railing it all seemed to fall in to place.  We had the whole bridge completed, including facing, by 1900 that night, twelve hours from when we started.  I was thrilled!  The bridge looks fantastic and after we rip out the front chain link fence it will look even better.  I am going to wait for our tractor to show up before I do any digging or ripping up anything at this point.  It will be a huge time saver.

I even have enough left over pieces to add about 24 feet of railing up the walkway towards the driveway on one side.  Again, since I have to dig some post holes for this I am going to wait for the tractor to make it easy on myself.  It is going to look very nice by the time we get everything completed.   Now Annmarie thinks I should case in the concrete pillars with cedar and hide those also...

The finished Bridge!!!

Here is a close up of the facing Annmarie wanted to cover up the
pressure treated wood.  It actually makes a huge difference
in appearance for very little money (comparatively).