Sunday, May 13, 2012

Progress is incremental.

I have spent the last two days catching up.  Annmarie found a trailer!  A distant cousin of hers had one and will let us use it for the day (thank you Julie).  I have the cows lined up for Thursday of this week.  This means that the barn lot fence has to be fixed by then.  I went out and finished digging the two post holes by hand.  The first one just had loose dirt, which is to be expected.  The second one had two very large rocks in it that I had to pry out.  It is no wonder my shear bolt broke.  I did go to the dealer and get a few more bolts.  So it is ready for some more action.  I have one more hole to dig out by our cattle guard.  Both new posts are set in the ground. In some things I am catching on.  You never want to set the posts and then just put the wire on them immediately, they don't set up as well, even if you tamp the dirt down when setting the post.  Letting the post sit idle for a couple of days lets it settle and firm up.  This week I will take the wire off the burned up posts and attach it to the new ones.  The cows will not be able to get out. 

I finished underneath the barn yesterday.  I installed two more supports and added three 2x8 cross beam supports to shore up the two cracked and replace the broken one.  No I did not remove the old ones.  I just jacked up the floor and pounded them in place and let the floor back down.  They are not going any where.  I just leaned the old wood panels against the barn to keep the sheep from sleeping under the barn.  They were making a mess.  Eventually, I am going to have to figure out how to close up that end.  For now it is low on the priority list.  I decided that it was time for the floor.  My help is not going to be here until next month.  This was prom weekend so my soon to be graduated help is still busy, and when I am available we will be on vacation or camping for two weekends making middle of June the starting date for my help.  The floor is something I can do alone.  I moved all the wood and sorting chute from the outside wall path.  The barn has a heavily built center with two four foot wide paths on each long end.  The reason was a human path on each side and a middle area for the draft horses.  I wanted to work on the outer wall pathway.  I had been pointedly ignoring the fact that there was three feet of sheep dung trapped between the outer wall and some inner 1x12 inch boards.  As I was cleaning up the floor I poked though the bottom board on the wall, it was rotten.  I ended up having to rip off the bottom board the whole length of the wall and dig out the sheep shit with a hand trowel.  (My father got a hand Corona trowel, cast aluminum, for his birthday which I had to have so I bought one, it works great!)  I found one old clear whiskey bottle, one 1958 7-UP bottle, three flat cats, old plastic bags from sheep drench (Annmarie's father), countless pieces of baling wire, 10 old horseshoes with handmade nails in them, and lots of old rotten leather bridles.  I am only about 2/3 way down the wall.  I did open up all the windows for ventilation and an end door, but I still inhaled a lot of hay and manure products.  Definitely, going to wear a mask to finish it all up.  The worst part is a large portion of it is falling through the floor, so I am going to have to rake under the barn when I am all done. 

Zeke and I went to put the sheep up on Friday night.  What a knot head, he didn't want to listen, only to run around and chase the sheep, what a teenager.  So after three times trying to move them to the other end of the field, I had to calm myself and just keep Zeke near.  Once he got calmed down, and stayed close we made it to the other field.  I opened the gate for the sheep and they panicked and were jumping over an equipment wire gate.  Morons were bouncing off it , trying to go through it and Zeke was laying down.  One of the sheep ended up cutting itself up on the barb wire and bleeding all over our bridge.  The sheep are doing fine.  We moved them into the orchard with the horses as it was starting to grow out of control.  The horses could not keep up.  The horses chased the sheep around for about an hour to establish dominance and since then they have been comingling without any problems. 

I did get the power cords all strung out to the barn, tools in place and drug my compound miter saw and stand out to the barn.  I am ready to tackle the floor, as soon as it is all cleaned up.  I will most likely drag my old cheap table saw out there also.  After that the only thing I need is a third extension cord and my Sawzall.  I need the Sawzall to cut in the windows and doors in the outer walls of the barn. 

Donna (my mother-in-law) had our go to contractor (Lee Herman Construction) put metal on the entire back of the machine shop.  He said it was touch and go after he removed the wooden siding he thought the hole thing might fall over.  There was a large section of the supports missing on the tall side (Ted, Annmarie's dad had knocked them out with the tractor when he was getting hay, his fine motor skills were leaving him) causing the barn to be very unsteady.  A couple of the main supports inside were broken also.  Lee replaced those and shored up the inner wall.  It looks good, the plan is to do a side at a time. 

The weeds are dying this time around.  The stinging nettles wilted within 24 hours.  In a couple of weeks I should really be able to tell how things are doing.  The grass is growing so fast I am going to have to break out the mower soon.  There is always something to distract me from my current project.  Sarah is going to move the large pile of sheep manure this upcoming weekend with the tractor. I need it out of the way so we can get at the entire front of the barn without working around it.  None of these things include emptying the old granary so I can tear it down.  It will take two days to empty the granary, two entire days with the tractor and pickup and trailer in use.  I am going to have to use my hired help wisely to get the maximum assistance possible. 

Jason and I are going to do the front of the barn.  I have a couple of small metal working jobs for him and I am going to offload all the scrap metal I have piled around the place onto him.  I figure he will need to make at least three trips just to get all the scrap.  This should be the last big push for the scrap metal.  After that I will fence in a scrap area where my pile is now and we will throw the occasional scrap onto that pile.  I want to get all the scraps contained into one area so it is safe to mow without hitting some large chunk of steel.  Eventually, I would like to use a metal detector to go over certain areas and finish cleaning them up. That is many many years away.  In ten years I would like the place to look like a well groomed park.