Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Barn floor weirdness.

I went out last night to feed the animals and stumbled across the barn floor over near the sheep entrance.  I figured it was just me catching my toe in the straw but for some reason I dug down into the straw with my toe and discovered a large inverted V in the floor.  Two of the tongue and groove boards pushed up about seven inches.  The odd part is it only near the center of the barn.  On the outer wall the boards are all flat against the floor.  There might have been some shifting of the supports under the barn with the leveling, new floor and new roof all over that section.  In the spring after everything dries out I will have to crawl back under the barn and see what is up.  I am not going to worry about it right now.  It is toss up on whether to work on the stairs in the barn or the attic floor in the house.  I am thinking I am going to spend a couple of months on the attic floor then move out to the barn.  The first thing to finish is painting the breezeporch.  One half is totally done and now we need to move all the furniture and dog kennels so we can clean, prime and paint (2 coats) the other side.  Plus, I still need to clean up the old house and put away my tools.  Right now I cannot find anything I need or want. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Half day on the rock wall.

Upper road and downhill side of back fence.

Upper road, leveling in progress.

Back upper rock wall connected.
My trusty tractor and I (and the dog) went out today to work on the back rock wall.  I could not work on the outside of the barn as the wind is still blowing.  I connected the upper wall sections and started leveling the road on the outside of the fence with the tractor.  All the extra dirt and rocks from the road leveling I am using to build up the wall and the dirt to raise the berm.  Truly it looks like I spent 30 minutes playing outside.  This project is going to take a few years.  I am in it for the long haul.  I cannot say enough good things about the tractor.  It is a huge force multiplier.  I figure I can do the work of about 2.5 people when I use my tractor.  I am not even sure that many people could have torn up and leveled the road as fast as the tractor. 

I think it will take me another eight hours to get the upper road dug out and smoothed out.  It was pretty treachorous driving the pickup on a sidehill next to the fence.  I have decided to widen the rock wall so it will be a couple of feet deep.  This will make it massive and hopefully keep it in place better than a single stacked layer of rocks. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rock wall eventually...

Back hillside, eventual lower rock wall.
 I have started my workout plan again.  I am building a rock wall on the back hillside.  I have a hard time exercising when I don't get any thing out of it.  This way I workout and get a rock wall!  A twofer! The only real problem is I had a partial wall left over from ages ago and I want to move the rocks down the hillside.  Some of the rocks weigh 200-300 pounds and when they start to roll there is no stopping them.  I already have one down in the creek that I need to chain up and pull out with the tractor.  It took off and I could not stop it. 
Back hillside, eventual upper rock wall.
I dig a flat spot in the hillside and roll the rocks down to the flat spot.  I want to get the wall started so I can start leveling the road on the other side of the fence and use that dirt to fill in my terraces.  Plus, there will be lots of rocks when I start working on the road.  I want a double terrace at a minimum.  There is a far section of the hillside where I might add a third terrace.  On the positive side I will not run out of rocks.  The back hillside is covered with them and these puny little rock walls will not use them all up.  I want the walls to be about four feet high.  This is a long term project that I just whittle away at whenever I get a chance.  I usually only spend 30-60 minutes on it at a time.  You can see our weather station mounted on the back fence.  It has recorded wind speeds of up to 60 mph.  Unfortunately, the back hillside doesn't get as much wind as the front porch.  We are thinking about installing a second weather station down near the front creek over in the ram pasture.
Upper hay doors now latched, take that wind!
One of the consequences of cleaning out my tools from the barn so that Annmarie can have her tack room is the tools have to go somewhere.  That somewhere is the empty floor space in the old house.  You can walk in the front door and stare at the mess now.  So next week the girls and I will go out and organize and clean up the old house.  I have two new spaces, drawers and a huge new toolbox (used) to fill so I just need to sort everything and find it a home.
Old house, tools from the barn.

The old house is quickly moving up on the priority list.  It keeps settling or the concrete blocks keep crumbling.  My vote is on the concrete blocks.  I need to jack it up and relevel the whole house.  Probably, take me about five days to get it all done.  Once that is completed then I can rip out the center wall and start wiring the house with 220v and 110v for the wood shop. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Machine shop progress

Machine shop Southern exposure getting some metal siding.

Tack room completed.
Donna is getting our end of the machine shop covered in tin.  She is doing a side at a time. 
My nephew came over today and helped me out.  We finished putting up the first layer of siding.  I have been putting a few pieces on whenever time allows, but I have to have help.  Someone has to hold up the board while I screw it on at the top.  We put the last piece on first thing this morning but had to stop due to the high winds.  When the ladder moved with me on it I figured it was time to be done.  I still need to put a whole second layer over this one.  We figured it lasted over 100 years the first time this way. 
We moved into the barn and finished up the tack room.  We installed the boards at the ceiling height so that large wild animals could not get in.  There is no way I am going to be able to keep the mice out.  We will just keep some rat poison on the shelves so the animals cannot get to it but the mice can.  The second saddle rack was finished today and a few more hooks installed.  Gannon cleaned out all the tools from the tack room and brought over the tack.  It looks great. 

First layer completed today.
 The inside of the barn is looking good and the sheep greatly appreciate it. I also attached latches to both the sliding doors.  Annmarie talked me into just copying from her ancestors.  I cut a hole in both doors and then attached a chain on the inside to the wall.  That way you can just reach inside the hole and unlatch the door.  Works well, my holes aren't very round but the sawzall was quick.  Just count it as operator inexperience. 

Barn roof fixed and outside projects started.

Y gate filled with dirt.
When I was working on the barn roof this summer I left enough tin hanging over the sides so that I could screw them onto the sides so the wind could not blow the tin off.  Of course, this only works if I had actually screwed down the roofing.  We have had high winds for almost a week now and the tin on the edge of the barn was getting ready to rip off.  Unfortunately, grabbing ahold of tin roofing in 40 mph wind is not very conducive to five fingered endeavors.  Yesterday the wind stopped and I crawled up onto a ladder and actually attached the roof to the wall.  No way it would have lasted another day.  It had torn in one place already and was cracking around the screws on the outer edge.  I really had planned on getting to that...

I had to fill the Y gate enclosure with dirt.  The sheep had started crawling under the gate. 
Baby chicks getting bigger.
 The baby chickens are growing and doing well.  We still don't know what kind of chicken the white ones are.  I was thinking I would need to thin out the adult chickens so I could tell the new ones apart as they grew up, but I don't have any other Ameracauna adult chickens.  I still have 17 hens and one rooster.  I think the chicken's productivity is down but I won't know until the end of the year when I do the quarterly report. 

I fired up the tractor to help clean up the orchard.  Mr. President came over and worked for 12 hours helping to pick up the dead branches and wind blown trash.  Most of the orchard got cleaned up before he got sick.  I had the tractor out of the shed to drag some larger tree trunks to the burn pile.  I decided to level the hill out in the orchard so I don't have any trouble mowing in the spring.  There were some large rocks sticking up and creating a mowing hazard.  As a side benefit I had to pick up rocks and Donna needed them for yard decoration so I took them over to her house.   The burn pile is getting big.  I currently have three separate piles going over the place now.  All will have to wait for the weather to turn.

Last week

Back creek running again.
The back creek is running again.  This is a good sign for moisture content in the mountains.  Or a bad sign that all the snow is melting off the mountains early.  As you can see in the picture the wind has been blowing lots!  The weeds are starting to pile up in the fences all over the farm.  I need the wind to die down and a few days of rain or snow before I go out and deal with the weeds.  The worst part is going to be digging the weeds out of the fence before burning them.  I don't want to replace any more fencing next year.  I had enough of that this year.

Chicken coop

Annmarie told me I wasn't taking enough artistic photos of the farm lately so I decided every time I have the camera I need to shoot a few artsy fartsy photos.  One can never have enough pictures of the chicken coop. 

Dexter bull.

The cows are still outside the pen running around the machine shop and cars.  They don't eat cars, they don't run through every little hole in the fence and they aren't tearing the place up in general.  We like them.  We had just been feeding them over the fence when we feed the horses and sheep.  So now they run over and wait for food.  The bull will even holler when we don't get over there soon enough to give them food. Otherwise, the cows are very quiet. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Chicken coop woes

Wind damage

Breeze porch, ceiling still needs second coat of paint.
The other day Mother Nature let it be known that I had chicken coop issues.  In the middle of the night the wind started to howl.  Annmarie checked our weather station and we recorded winds over 60 MPH.  The next day when Sarah went to get eggs it was discovered that my wall was trying to blow over.  The door acted like a kite and it blew over this wall.  I don't have the posts very far into the ground as I couldn't dig them very far.  I will have to put up a board between the coop and wall and then a cable tightening the two together.  Once that is done I will probably set both those posts in concrete.  Otherwise they just will not stay now that they have been loosened. 
This is a priority but with my schedule that means next week at the earliest. 

I did manage to get a second coat of paint onto the breeze porch walls.  I ran out of paint before I could finish the ceiling.  The walls completed will let me reinstall the lights and thermostat.  I will have to pick up another gallon of paint and a gallon of primer.  The old primer was hard to mix and kinda curdled.  Time for it to go away.  Trouble is it takes forever to dry out in the winter.  It has to be dry before you can throw it in the trash. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

November update

Things have been hectic here and I have not had the drive to keep up on the blog.  This is my attempt at rectifying that situation.  Truly not a lot happened in November.  The rain came and our mild weather allowed all the pasture to green back up.  A nice change which let us stop feeding the animals for most of the month. 

We moved the baby chicks out to the chicken coop the day before Thanksgiving.  They were starting to smell like chickens in the house.  They have done great.  None have died.  I will definitely order from that company again. I replaced the fuse in the automatic chicken door.  It only moved 1/2 inch before the fuse blew again.  I am going to have to email the gentleman who built it again.  Not sure why I keep having so much trouble.  We still have 17 hens and 1 rooster with 27 babies.  Currently we are getting around 6-7 eggs/day.  More chickens are needed to cover all the customers that are not getting eggs.

Doug and I tagged the two boy sheep, the new baby(#19) and our ram(#18).  The ram was kinda skinny which I thought was odd but he seemed fine.  Last week we had to put him down, he was so weak he could not stand.  We cannot afford for a sick animal to make the rest of the herd ill. In a couple of months I will have to get another ram. 

We didn't do a wood project this year.  I was just too beat.  So the girls, Doug and I worked on painting the breeze porch.  The girls washed the walls on one half and then we primed and put the first coat of paint on.  It is a boring white paint with 87% light reflectivity.  It is amazingly brighter in that half of the room. We don't really have any plans to finish the breeze porch any time soon, I was just getting tired of the four different colors of paint.  Annmarie and I thinking about just sheeting the walls with 1/4 inch plywood then decoupaging maps all over them.  This project has a low priority but it is nice to have a plan.  The white just cleans the room up and makes it brighter.  My plants will love it!

Other half of breeze porch to be painted.  Lovely color scheme.

We have not had any new baby lambs since the last one.  Soon, very soon from the look of the ewes. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby chicks are here.

Baby chicks in dining room
The baby chicks came from Ideal hatchery today.  I spent yesterday building a nursery out of a large blue plastic bin.  I cut the lid and bolted down some rabbit wire on top so the air could circulate and the cats and dogs could not get to the baby chicks.  I had the heat lamp inside the bin but the chicks were getting too hot so I cut a clamp spot and moved it outside the bin.  The chicks seem to like it better.  We ended up with two extra chickens and four of them are yellow and probably not what we ordered.  They are all healthy and we had no deaths out of 100 chickens.  I will be ordering from them again. 
It is a good thing since Sarah only collected four eggs today!  We definitely need some new blood.  In a week or so we will move the chicks out to the coop.  This gives us some time to play with them and keep them nice and warm.  Still no more lambs.  They should be lambing again before the new year.  We figure at least another 3-4 ewes should deliver. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Barn work commences again.

Last of the sheep pile, fence cleared and ground leveled.

Cow lean too with feeder in it for winter.

 I took the girls out with me today so we could start putting siding back up on the barn.  The South side needs all new facing.  It needs a large window up top, but facing is going to happen first.  First, we had to dig out all the animal feces in between the walls and take nails out of the boards.  Once that was done then I had to cut out some of the old siding.  I am going to salvage as much as I can so a surgical strike with the sawzall was necessary.  I was in a hurry and didn't want to put the harness on.  The girls gave me lots of flack for not being safe.  Sarah kept wanting to know who she should call first 911 or mom.  I told her 911 if I fell from the top of the barn definitely. 
It took a while to get every thing ready before we could start reinstalling the siding.  The prep time seems to always take the longest of every project.  We did finally get to start putting up the siding.  When the girls went in for lunch I worked on the siding around the windows.  They didn't actually go in for lunch, they snuck over and got on the horses Annmarie had just groomed.  The horses were in good spirits and Hogs only slid Monica off her back one time.  We let the sheep and horses in the front yard for the weekend to eat all the leaves and shorten the grass before going into winter.  This is a labor saving tool (who likes raking leaves?) not to be underestimated.

Front of the barn needing to be refaced.
Sawing off the boards with sawzall.

The girls riding the horses.
The large opening at the top of the barn is going to get a large 8 foot x 4 foot window eventually.  The two little windows go into Annmarie's tack room and they let in a large amount of light.  It is easy to see and find things during the day. 

The top left side of the barn needs to have the boards removed so I can use the long horizontal top beam as an anchor point for the siding.  It is 16 feet from the bottom to the upper beam and my boards are 16 feet long so it was important to get those removed.  They did not want to come free easily.
Monica ended up getting a piece of sawdust in her left eye while her and Sarah were sliding one of the 16 foot boards up the wall.  It was just dust from the boards.  We ended up having to go in and try to get it out.  I was unsuccessful but while we waited for the eye doctor to call us back it resolved itself.   So we just went out, put all the tools away and called it a day.  I will get it done eventually. 

Partially completed first layer. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catching up.

The straw is in the barn.  I got a great deal, 28 bales = 1 ton for a cost of $60.  Right here so I only had to drive 4 miles.  I unloaded them into the old sheep area and broke open 7 bales to cover the barn floor to a much greater depth.  I have about 6 inches of straw over the entire floor.  Plenty of left over to get us through the winter, hopefully there will be some leftover for next year.
I rehung the main entrance gate into the barn lot.  It keeps coming loose on the top hinge.  I took a hose clamp and an old metal door latch I used as a shim.  Hopefully, this will keep the hinge piece from sliding down.  I scrounged around for the metal pieces to fix the grain bin door in the barn.  I just need to drill a hole in the pipe.  I am using a little wire to hold things together initially.  If this works then I will make a permanent change.
Annmarie wanted handles on both sides of the doors.  The easiest fix was to drill holes in the door, hand size, that can be used.  I still need to drill a handle in the large outer hay room door.
I scraped the last of the sheep manure pile away from the barn lot fence.  I also scraped down the high spot in the barn lot near the gate.  This makes a decent pile of soil that I can use to start building up the back hillside terracing.
I also scraped the upper front creek clean of mud and vegetable matter.  I have one 10 foot section on the upper side that needs some hand digging still.

Big surprise, I still need to finish some fencing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chicken financial update

Having gone to quarterly updates i am now able to procrastinate even longer than before.  Unfortunately, they are not true quarterly reports, they are progressive annual report for the first three, six, nine and twelve months of the year.  I will have to talk Annmarie into alterring my report spreadsheet.  She is very busy now at work so it is going to have to wait.  I want a predator tracking section also.  I am thinking about making a tunnel to connect my greenhouse to the chicken coop.  I just need a greenhouse.  I am picking up the windows next week and after taking some measurements I can start working on some dimensional plans for it.

The first six months are on track for a possible break even year.  The sad part is I have stacked all my major expenses in the last quarter.  I dug out the coop and installed new litter and bedding for a cost of $90 and just ordered 25 baby chicks to arrive next month at a cost of $77.  I am still having issues with my chicken door.  It keeps blowing fuses and I am not sure why.
For the first six months of this year I averaged 25.4 laying hens/day,10.7 eggs/day, 43% productivity (slackers), 0.35 lbs feed consumed/egg produced, feed cost $0.09/egg, income $69/month, expenses $46.38/month, net income $22.62/month, profit to date $135.70, amount of feed consumed 640#.
For the first nine months of this year I averaged 23.5 laying hens/day, 9.6 eggs/day, 41% productivity ( should have been better over summer), 0.33# feed consumed/egg produced, feed cost $0.09/egg, income $59.33/month, expenses $37.31/month, net income $22.02/month, profit to date $198.22, amount of feed consumed to date 840#.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tractor woes.

Monica and Sarah gutting pumpkins.
 Sarah and Monica carved pumpkins for Halloween.  Monica had never done it before.  They also dressed up as superheroes for homecoming.  Monica had not done any costumes before.  She is learning all kinds of Americanisms.  Annmarie made cooked pumpkin seeds after I cleaned the seeds off.  They were very good, the girls weren't that impressed.  We ate them all in three days.

It has rained just over an inch this month as of two days ago.  The 1/4 mile driveway was starting to washboard so I decided it was time to hook up the box blade and smooth out the driveway.  I am really avoiding fencing at all costs.  I got the driveway all smoothed out with very little effort.  It is amazing to me how much easier it was than last year.  Practice is a wonderful teacher.  The driveway is very nice.  I loaded up a bunch of dirt with the tractor and put it in my mother-in-law's yard for her rock garden patch (I think she wants a burial mound in her yard).  The tractor will get it just over the fence with the bucket.  After that I decided to go out into the orchard and level out the far corner.  I needed to build up the ground level where the sheep had been crawling under the fence.  The corner I stole the dirt from had been built up over the years by the animals hanging out and pooping in the same corner.  I just leveled it off with the surrounding ground level.  This built up my low spot by almost two feet.  I just need to dump a bunch of rocks on the backside of the dirt mound so it doesn't all wash away.   I smoothed out the lower orchard a little with the box blade, but I really need to get the disc set up and running to get it truly smooth.
There was one little high spot near the road that had a steep backside near the front creek.  I had a hard time running the mower over it this spring so it needed to be knocked down.  I want to make it safe to mow every where.   Well, the front creek was right there and really needs to be dug out so I used the bucket on the tractor to scoop out a four foot swath.  It was so heavy I could just barely lift the bucket and move it two feet forward and dump it on the back half of the creek.  Unfortunately, the front tires of the tractor where right at the waters edge.  I did this four times and on the last and fifth attempt I could not back up.   The bank was too steep.  Four wheel drive was not enough.  If you cannot back up, go forward is my motto.  Yep, not such a great motto.  The tractor sunk all the way to the foot pedals.  The box blade wedged into the hillside behind me and I could not go anywhere.  I spent two hours lifting the tractor out of the water with the front bucket and tossing rocks and downed tree limbs under the tires in an attempt to get out.  I finally managed to get enough slack in the box blade to remove the pins and get it off the tractor.  Mind you it was still right behind me on the hillside so backing up was still not an option.  I was covered in mud and cow shit, the water stunk something fierce.  Finally, the girls came home from school and I had them get a shovel, chain and bring the pickup around.  I dug into the hillside to make a ramp for the tractor.  Hooked the chain up to the front of the tractor and the hitch on the pickup.  I told Sarah she would have to "make a running start of three feet and hit the chain hard" but not keep going or she was going to pull me over on the tractor.  I got in the tractor seat and buckled up.  It took three jarring attempts to get the tractor out of the ditch.  I was very glad to be out of the ditch and not flipped over.  I then preceded to knock down the high spot so I can safely mow in the spring.  With all this rain I am starting to think about burning...
New momma alcove.

Saddle stand in the new tack room.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rainy chores

It rained most of the day, which just makes working outside miserable.  I had on two light jackets, a heavy vest, a knit cap, gloves and a baseball cap.  I thought I would be cold.  I was supposed to be working on the barn yard gates but got distracted.  I ended up digging out the front creek.  There was still an upper section that had not been done yet.  I dug it out with a metal rake from each side.  I had to drag over two wooden panels to go over the creek so the sheep cannot crawl under the fence.
Annmarie`s plan was to make the barnyard sheep proof so we could let sheep out both ends of the barn.  Plan B was in order, I cleaned out all my tools in the anteroom just inside the barn in front of the tackroom.  I moved a feeder in and tossed out a bale of straw.  The momma and baby got moved in and now they can get themselves to water and shelter.  We did shut the sliding door tonight so no predators can get them.
I found a local source for straw and am picking up a ton on Monday.  We are using it on the floor.  It was only $60/ton, which is a great price plus I don`t have to drive very far.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Babies... it really is time again.First

 It is that time again.  Annmarie went out to let the sheep out of the barn two days ago and found this little guy laying next to one of the feeders.  She coaxed momma into one of the prepared jugs (sheep creche) so the momma and baby can hang out together separated from everyone else.  This lets the baby get stronger without having to run around everywhere and try to keep up with mom.  It also keeps them out of the weather and warm.  This is our first baby from the new ram.  If you look closely you can see his face is more square than our other babies from years back. 
First baby of the fall and our new ram.

He was also very healthy and strong.  We are not sure if it is because he is a single or if it is the new ram.  The first few twins will tell whether the ram is the cause.  If he is throwing stronger lambs then go boy!  The jugs worked out great.  The only problem now is I don't have the barn subdivided to keep the mommas and babies in one side and everyone else in the other.  Subdividing is not the big deal.  The big deal is there needs to be two separate entrances into the barn and the outside fencing has to keep the two groups separate with both groups having access to running water.  We hate carrying water in the winter and since the front creek never freezes we don't need to as long as the animals can get to it.  This means more fence building for me.  I need to put hanging boards off of two gates so the sheep don't crawl under the gates.  I also need to drive in two metal posts into the ground on the back fence.  Hopefully, this will make the main barn lot sheep proof.  The momma/baby area just needs a panel across the creek so they don't crawl under the fence at this location.  I also need to finish nailing the back barn lot/ram pasture dividing fence in place.  It is currently held in place with two fence tighteners.  Not ideal, but really I have been busy at the new job and haven't had a lot of time. 

I also need to make a metal lid for the grain bin in the barn.  I have decided to do this out of two pieces of tin roofing.  I am just going to beat them flat on the anvil.  I also have to make a handle so you can let the grain out of the bin.  So fencing and grain bin are the next two projects.  I really want to get to the sorting chute, but alas not yet.  This may very well become the Thanksgiving project with Doom. I was hoping to do a closet in the laundry room instead of the chute.  There are still two closets that need to be built in the laundry room. We will see. 

There are seven more ewes that will deliver in the next few months.  Our babies are not old enough, we don't expect any of them to birth until they are over 12 months old.  On a plus note we have already gotten almost 9/10 of an inch of rain this month.  Amazingly, the ground is not muddy and sloppy.  The ground has absorbed every drop of rain and croaked for more.  I think we could tolerate another whole inch before it started to stay on the surface. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken Coop Blues

Chicken coop deep litter hand dug out.
 Today was the day to clean out the chicken coop.  I love the deep litter method because you don't have to clean the coop out all the time.  I am supposed to clean it out yearly, but I think I went almost 18 months this time.  It needed it badly.  It wasn't helping that Annmarie and Monica were getting eaten by some bug.  I shoveled out the entire coop and then drug the shop vac in and went to town with it.  I vacuumed all the cobwebs and dust from the coop along with the floor.  I vacuumed out the nest boxes also.  After it was nice and clean I used two bug bombs in the place and locked all the chickens out.  Two plus hours later when I went in to lay down the new floor litter I found all these tiny little bugs covering the floor outside of the nest boxes.  I had some powder to dust the chickens with that I used in the bottom of all the nest boxes first before filling them with a layer of pellets then some pine bedding.  Now I just need to get some more wooden eggs out to the coop.  Two boxes are missing wooden eggs.  Annmarie asked me what I was going to do with the pile outside the coop.  I am just going to spread grain over the top of the pile every day until the chickens have spread it out evenly over their yard.  Much more energy efficient that way (no energy on my part).
Baby area ready for chickies.
 The baby chicken area is all ready to go.  I just need to install a new light bulb in the warmer and get the feeder and waterer down and ready to go.  Next week we will mail order some new baby chickens.  I only have 17 hens now and they are only producing about 7 eggs/day.  So it is time for new blood.

It rained last night we got 1/2 inch of rain.  That was the second longest dry spell in recorded history for us. It is supposed to rain again on Sunday and Monday and we need it.  I would love to get at least 1 inch total. 
Chicken coop looking in from front door, cleaned and ready for use.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Work.

More work.
 I had been meaning to go by the scrap yard and look for some more fencing.  I ran out after this last round of fence building.  I had just dropped Sarah off at school after her job shadow so I figured I would just drop in on the metal scrap yard.  I was actually greeted by a nice rough looking gentleman and inquired about some woven fencing.  He asked if I wanted sheep fence and I said yes.  Mind you I was wearing a t shirt, no hat, cargo pants and my slippers, not exactly scrap yard attire.  He had three very large rolls which is plenty to get me up the hillside.  It might even be enough to put some on the horse fence my brother-in-law installed this summer.  If I could stop the sheep at that fence it would cut down dramatically the amount of outside fence I would need to repair before I could turn the sheep loose.  On the off chance I asked about a small set of discs.  He showed me some that had just came in yesterday.  The set I had seen this summer did not last.  Packy, the owner, had told me that they typically don't last, but they come in every few months.  So I told him I would take those also.  The price for scrap is $0.25/lb.  I ran home, put some boots and a hat on and hitched up the trailer.  I showed up and he loaded the trailer for me.  I picked up 584# of fence and a 742# disc for a total of 1326lbs at a price of $331.50.  In other words, I paid $150 for the fence and $180 for the disc set.  The fence new, it is red brand, would cost about $750-$900.  So I saved a minimum of $600.  I was also able to put in my order for more used tin roofing and more sheep fencing for the spring.  I LOVE the metal scrap yard!!  They have saved me a small fortune already.  The nice gentleman gave me a business card, "Irish Iron" a subsidiary of the Doherty, LLC.  I love the name.
I need about 10 minutes of welding on the disc to make it 100% functional.  I was pretty excited.  I passed up the 3 point plow with two blades.  I just don't think I need that yet.  In the future maybe, but not now.  I have been resting for the last couple of days.  My left elbow has been bugging me for a couple of months and fencing always makes it ache.  The chicken coop has priority this weekend.  I will get it all dug out and bug bombed and new wood pellets in it. Then I need to fix the gate in the barn lot and put a handle and lid on the grain bin I mounted in the barn.  We are getting there slowly. 
Disc set so I can start getting ground ready for reseeding. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fencing and decorations, Farm 3, Predators 10.

Well the predators are back.  I lost two more chickens for sure and maybe a third one (dead chicken bodies are a sure thing.  Zeke finds them from wherever they are hid on the farm and drags them around).   This calls for a trap.  One trap is still at Grandmas but the other one was up on the hill from the skunk incident.  I had assumed that the trap was just up on the hill airing out.  NOT SO!  There was a dessicated rotting skunk in the trap when I went up to get it today.  Not very pleasant.  I could not find a stick on the hillside (bone yard) so I ended up using an animal femur as a stick and scraping the skunk out of the trap.  I hosed the trap down once we got it to the house and will proceed to set it and kill whatever is eating my chickens.  We know there is at least one possum in the area as we snuck down to Donna's house the other night to try and shoot one eating cat food off the front porch.  It left before we got there.  The lousy part is everyone wants eggs.  We could be getting rid of 10 dozen a week at least now and we are only getting about five dozen.  The price of feed has skyrocketed to $17/50# bag.  This is mostly due to the fact that I don't drive by the feed store in Hermiston very often so I cannot save the $3/bag.  I am going to have to load up next month on the chicken feed.  I may just buy it in large quantities of 500#/trip.  If I time it with the sheep and horse food I could take the pickup and buy about 1500#, that should be enough to get us through a few months.  For me to get enough for all of winter I think it would be around 2500#, maybe less.  I will try and keep track of it this winter so I know.

Back of in-law's garage.

Oliver Horse drawn plow.

Jason came over today to help me get the old horse drawn plow off the hillside for my mother-in-law, Donna.  Monica (foreign exchange student) spent the day with me helping out.  We drove up to the plow and after digging it all out Jason suggests that since the wheels are on it and it is intact why not just pull it off the hill.  This idea holds way more appeal then trying to chain it up and get in on the trailer.  So we raise the plow height with the adjustable handles and I lift the moving end with the bucket.  Jason chains it in place and off I go pulling the plow with the tractor.  It is slow going but smooth.  One hundred feet later one of the metal wheels falls off.  There is a special clamp that holds the tire onto the shaft of the axle while letting it turn and one side does not have this clamp.  We chained it up and struggled but finally got it onto the trailer.  Once down at Donna's house we pulled the plow out the back of the trailer with some difficulty and I drug it while Jason continually kicked at the metal wheel to keep it on the shaft.  We found eight more metal wheels for decoration at Donna's house, for a total of  11 or 12.  I lost track of the exact number.

Just before plow.  I need to stand them up.

Monica and I went out after lunch to finish fencing.  Jason had to go back home and do something that paid.  Now on a plus note, the trailer was initially filled with discard wood scraps so we took it over to the lamb shed and cleaned up all the scrap from tearing down the pig enclosure and got it all on the trailer.  This was all emptied out on the hillside at the burn pile before we could get the plow.  The barn yard is almost totally cleaned up just the freezer and a small pile of metal, about one hour of work and it will be done.  We managed to get the "H" supports in for the new fence in the ram pasture and stretched the woven wire.  I am going to have to stick a panel across the creek as the fence leaves an eight inch gap over the water.  I have some old wooden panels from the pig barn I will use to patch up the holes.  We need about another four hours to finish that fence.  It is getting cold here, it was 26 degrees F this morning.

I also finished hanging the rings and horseshoes in the barn today.  There are over 80 used horseshoes in the barn now.  I am going to go find all the different pitchfork heads I have stashed everywhere and take them in to the hardware store so I can buy new handles for them.  They do not make pitchforks like they used to.  I am also thinking about bringing all the yard tools with no handles that I have stashed out in the wood shed over to the barn and hanging them up on the walls for decoration.  A project that may eventually happen but not any time soon.

Before I can put in more fence up the hillside I will need to go to the scrap yard and buy some more used fencing.  I only have a couple of small rolls left, not enough to do anything of significant scope. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Barn yard fencing almost done

Upper corner, gate access on the left side.
The goal was to finish the fencing on Saturday.  It did not happen.  We had six wooden posts to sink into the ground.  The water I put on the ground via sprinklers helped with two of the holes.  I broke two different safety bolts trying the last two holes.  I ended up using the scoop to dig down to solid bedrock a lousy 18 inches down.  Jason came up with the idea of sinking the rock jacks into the ground.  We had used a cattle panel earlier for one rock jack and it worked great.  So we sunk the new rock jacks into the ground as far as they would go and then back filled with dirt around them.  It worked pretty good.  This took us a day just to set the posts.
Y gate for sorting sheep into separate fields.

Buried Rock cribs. 
By Sunday we were starting to wear down and get tired.  The entrance door had to have a ramp built up to it.  We reinforced both sides with rocks.  This of course necessitated multiple trips to the rock pile to get enough rocks for every thing.  When we got to the right side of the barn near the ramp we tried to move rocks and dirt but the rocks were huge!  The tractor can lift 800# and I could not lift two rocks.  I rolled them out of the way one rock at a time with the tractor. 
Length of fence to front creek, new on right hand side.

We didn't get the entire fence up.  I need to put up another 3 or 4 strands of smooth wire and hang the outside gate. 

The Y gate needs a little more stiffener so it is easier to latch against either wall.  Hopefully, I can get it completed later in the week.  Very soon it will be done. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scrap metal scrapped.

Today Jason and I went around the farm and dug up scrap metal.  I had been keeping the locations in my memory of all scrap metal pieces stashed on the farm.  We started out by going up on the hill near the cliffs.  I remembered there was some scrap metal up there I had noticed when I almost got the mule (four wheel vehicle) stuck while trying to spray weeds near the bluff.  We went up there in our pickup.  We started digging in a rock pile and more metal just started appearing.  Jason jumped back and started hollering about a snake, specifically a small rattlesnake.  I did not see it.  He stated that it had crawled back into the rocks.  I made some specific intimations about his imagination as I have yet to find a rattlesnake on the property in six years.  We continued to dig through the rock pile, Jason used a metal rod and just to be on the safe side so did I, even though I didn't believe him.  Amazingly, it was a baby rattle snake.  We found it about 15 minutes later and killed it.  I admitted he was right.  We dug out half a pickup load out of the rocks and dirt.  Our adventures took us all over the farm and we consolidated the metal down by the barn and sorted it into two separate piles, scrap pile and Jason pile. 

We managed to get the area in front of the machine shop all cleaned up.  I filled our trash can full of old hoses and old plastic that were hidden in the grass.  I will be able to run the tractor mower in front of the machine shop now.  That will help us keep the weeds down in the summer. 

There were some old metal scraps down in a hole I was digging for dirt.  I used the dirt to fill in a low spot in my mother-in-law's yard.  We pulled the pickup over and started pulling out the visible metal.  Again, there was a rock pile and some old wooden fence posts on the ground.  We started moving the fence posts and rocks and filled up half the pickup.  We found two old wooden metal tire rings that I took to my in-law's house and four metal tractor seats all buried in the weeds and dirt.  It seemed like every time we started digging in the dirt we just found more metal.  Jason saw two more snakes down by the creek, black snakes, totally harmless.  I accused him of being paranoid.

We loaded all the scrap up onto Jason's trailer that he wanted and all the rest went to the scrap heap I have near the grain bins.  There is still about two more days of just going around and locating all the scrap and getting it centralized so it can be taken to the recycle yard.  The place is starting to look neater already.  I just keep cleaning a little bit up at a time but it just keeps adding up.   Tomorrow is fencing day.  Hopefully, we can get the front barn sheep area all done in one day.  That is pretty optimistic but so far we are ahead of schedule.

Barn doors installed.

Side Door in place, with some additional siding added. Still more to come.
 Jason, the wild man, came up this morning and we worked on the barn.  The front door is now almost complete.  Two of the bar supports are broken but thankfully I remembered there used to be another sliding door down by the milk shed.  There are five supports in great shape so we will snag three of them to attach to the front of the barn.  We hung the door any ways.

Side door, 10.5 feet high and 7 feet wide.
Next up was the side door leading to the second hay area.  We had to cut away some of the outer layer of siding.  It was so warped and rolled on the edges there was no way we could install the overhead track.  After we cut out the warped boards they had to be replaced.  I didn't have this door made yet so we laid the boards out on the ground in two overlapped layers and screwed them together.  Then we laid out the backwards Z and screwed it into everything.  Yep, it was very heavy.  We could not lift it off the ground.  In came the trusty tractor to the rescue.  Once we had the rollers attached we stood it on its end and walked it back toward the barn by hand.  Almost impossible due to weight.  There was no way we were going to get a one foot vertical lift to set the door in the track.  So we brought in the tractor again and shimmed it up to the tract height.  Jason stood on the ladder and I shoved.  It took a few tries and multiple shim adjustments but we got it in the tract.  Jason thinks it may need to be adjusted (crooked) but that would require us to take the door down again.  I said it looked and worked great we are leaving it.
Front door leading into hallway and tack room.
I am not so sure the honey bees are going to like the new door.  Their hive is on the far right side of the door when it is fully open.  I need to put in a couple more supports but by yesterday afternoon the bees were incredibly active.  It was not going to be possible to do anything and not get stung.  The real problem was I don't mind getting stung a couple of times, it just seemed like I was probably going to get stung by a large exponential number of 2, a very large number.  On the plus side, it is looking good for honey this winter! 
Jason and I are going to clean up all the metal and tin piles I have stashed all over the farm today.  I want to get those all gone so I don't keep hitting scrap metal when I am mowing on the farm.