Thursday, June 28, 2012

Barn roof moving along

Trellis almost completed
Went to the Lumber store today and bought some roof beams.  They had 2x6 boards 20 feet long.  NO, I did not go to Home Depot because they don't have that kind of lumber.  I picked up the missing pressure treated board I needed to finish off the box over the long window.  Mr. President and I installed it then spent thirty minutes tying branches to the trellis in an attempt to get it to grow away from the house and onto the new trellis addition.   I found a couple of large flexible branches and plopped them onto the new trellis section.  We will see if they will creep out.  I am going to give the bush more water this year in an attempt to get it to grow more voraciously.  
New roof beams sticking out.

I started in on the short beams for the roof.  What a pain.  It would help if I knew what I was doing.  Not very many people support their own roofs any more.  You buy pre-made trusses.  So I have to make two angle cuts with ledges where they sit on top of the beams.  I managed to imitate it and cut five boards today and got them in place. 

Hit a fairly large SNAFU.  I have been standing on the upper platform to work on the roof, there are six boards that need to be installed where there is no walkway.  After much thinking we are installing a walkway support system, beams and ends every 18 inches.  I then lay some loose plywood on it, do my roof work and remove the plywood, Perfect.  If there are enough left overs after every thing else is done I will lay some actual floor onto those supports at a much later date.  I think two days of just beam work can get all the beams installed.  Two more weeks I can get the beams in and metal roof on.  I have made my vision known to all. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pig enclosure torn down.

Barn emptied out.
 Progress is happening much faster now.  Not sure why.  Maybe it just feels that way.  We tore down the rest of the Pig enclosure today.  I just need to remove the two feet of poop (ongoing theme...) and we can add the new exterior wall.

I attempted to pull the beams off the other beams we are leaving on the lamb shed.  I was just tearing the beams apart.  I ended up going to town and renting a generator for 20 minutes.  I had tried stringing extension cord, but after 400 feet I still needed another extension cord.  I just gave up, didn't figure I would have enough voltage after I had all my extension cords laid out.  The rental was a whopping $24 and worked great.  We unloaded the trailer and brought all the pig pen roof beams over to the main barn.  I am going to use these beams cut down to 9 feet lengths to fix the upper portion of the exposed roof.  Tomorrow I want to get all these beams cut and placed. 
Upper part of roof that needs repair.

Pig pen enclosure torn down.

Markings in concrete

As in all things there is another 2 feet of crap to dig out, literally!  Once I move the old dung with the tractor we will be able to tell how long to make the exterior boards.  Nice thing was we saved two different exterior gates and one locking latch mechanism.  I found one of the supports, made out of concrete, autographed by a "Betty Gilliland age 8 years Pilot Rock, ORE".  She was born in 1920 so this support was poured in 1928.  I will save this chunk of concrete, not sure where I am going to use it on the farm, but I will find a spot for it.  Probably as a support for some external stairs I want to add onto the backside of the barn.

First thing in the morning I am going to make a lumber run.  We will save money in labor if I buy the 14 boards, 20 feet long, that are needed to span the hole in the barn roof.  After we get the tin off the granary roof, it will take one hour to tear the rest of the building down with the tractor.  I love the concept of the tractor as "The Destructor!".  There is no end to the amusement I get with the tractor.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Vine trellis updated.

Trumpet vine trellis revision #2.

Second hay bay almost cleared out.
 Spent the last week playing catch up.  A large part of the weekend was spent cleaning up the house.  I did hook the mower up to the tractor and spent one day mowing the driveway and out front near the road.  It looks much better now.  The cheat grass just keeps coming back.  Sometimes I think the mowing is selectively growing short cheat grass.  I did score with some used lumber.  A friend of ours is a contractor and he is trying to empty out his shop.  I snagged bits and pieces of wood and a couple of sheets of plywood. 

Mr. President, (hired help, Reagan) has been cleaning the barn on the occasional day I am working.  He is getting there.  We emptied out the end of the barn where the last large pile was hiding out.  Again, I would like to offer up a small sacrifice to the tractor gods.  One god is simply not enough to cover just how helpful the tractor has been.  We used it to yard out the debris.  Hooked onto it with a chain and piled on the small stuff and out the door it went.  It took us an hour to empty it out.  Would have taken six hours to do it by hand.  It was some heavy stuff.  I am continuously amazed by how much faster tasks get finished. 

I went out and mowed the ram pasture today.  After that was done, I went out and mowed the loop around the upper pasture.  It takes almost an hour to get around the whole thing.  I saw three baby deer.  A single and a set of twins, jumped up right next to the tractor and ran away.  I saw the momma for the twins so I knew the babies were around somewhere.  I never saw the mother for the single baby.  Rodents by the dozens!!  I was amazed by the little things crawling all over the ground as I drove by or mowed over them.  The mower didn't hurt them and unfortunately no owls or hawks were nearby.

Zeke helping out, L shaped storage room.

 This was the last load of flooring to be hauled out.  We just stacked it up and then I grabbed it with a chain and pulled it out.  Mr. President will get the floor scraped and the rest of the barn cleaned out tomorrow.  The rest of the week is going to be dedicated to tearing down the hog enclosure.  I need the lumber to start in on the roof.  I tried to knock the boards loose, over the weekend, with the tractor but it was breaking about half the boards.  I quite messing with them.  We will try the old fashioned way and see how many can be salvaged.

The trumpet vine trellis had been needing some work.  I had put it off last year, but it could not wait.  I trimmed out all the dead vine and we added three new 4x4 posts.  I created a box in front of the long window, down low and up high.  I was short a 16 foot pressure treated board.  The only ones I had that long were green.  The rest of the trellis is orange/brown in color.  Now, I have to find one the right color.  It turned out pretty good.  I have a few more supports to add, and I want to tie some rope around the branches and pull them down and away from the house to force them to grow on the trellis.  Annmarie was trying to move a branch and broke it off.  The new branches are very fragile.  So she suggested we try and root it.  I took it up to the breeze porch and planted it in some soil.  I hope it takes, as I like this large flower vine.  It is an added bonus that the plant is over 50 years old.  We don't want it to die. 
One more piece of metal to remove and it will be time to add the window.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hog Enclosure vanishing

Hog enclosure vanishing.
 Another day closer to getting the barn completed.  My help, Mr President, came out at 0800 this morning.  Annmarie tried to wake me up at 0500.  I hurt all over.  My body was abused by the metal grain holder from the day before.  I had to lay around in bed for another 1.5 hours to convince myself I would not die if I got out of bed.

 At 0900 I moseyed on out to the barn with my faithful companion, Zeke ( the hardhead) dog.  Annmarie wanted me to sort out one of the ewes that she thought might give birth soon and put her in with the new lamb and mom.  I figured any thing was possible with my sidekick at the ready.  I wanted to push the sheep into the corner near the ram pasture, I would then wade in and catch the one ewe, then while holding the ewe open the gate and let the rest of the sheep out.  We went into the pasture and all the sheep ran to the opposite corner of where I wanted them.  Zeke waded right in at a dead run with no instructions from me (can you say over achiever?).  He is very fast and at 30#  he can really dig in.  He had one ewe down on the ground in five seconds flat.  He hits them from the side and pulls them over by their skin.  I called him off with extreme vigor.  He let go and came right back.  Amazingly, when he does this he never draws blood.  It is very traumatizing to watch, impressive but traumatic.  We had some loud words exchanged and a small tirade about listening (yes it is just the dog and I).  We gently cornered the sheep in the appropriate corner and I set Zeke to guard the bridge.  I talked to the sheep and slowly walked up to them until I could grab the one I wanted, #13 ewe.  The rest of the morons ran away from the gate, causing Zeke to break his guard position.  I was trying to hold onto the pregnant ewe and yell at the dog at the same time.  Somewhere in here I realized that I would not be able to get the rest of the sheep out and drag the ewe all the way to the barn.  I let her go.  We then pushed the sheep up into the horse covered area.  Zeke guarded the opening and I waded in and caught the ewe again.  The sheep bolted and I called Zeke.  He actually ignored the sheep and came into the enclosure with me.  I was holding onto the ewe.  The plan was to let go of the ewe, while the dog held her in place with his intimidating good looks, and I opened the gate into the barn.  Zeke was not down with the plan.  He broke his stay position and the ewe bolted for the field.  I had to leap onto her back and pin her down while being careful since she is pregnant.  It took 45 minutes to single out one ewe and I was covered in sheep shit from the waist down.  Not how I had envisioned the whole escapade.

We managed to get all the tin off the lamb shed attached pig enclosure today.  We are going to salvage all the wood to use in the barn roof along with the tin.  It went much faster than I anticipated.  I will spend this weekend attempting to get it torn down.  This was the precursor to tearing off the granary roof.  If it continues to go well, I think we can have the whole granary torn down in one week.  Which means in two weeks we could be back at the barn fixing the roof!  If I can get the roof done by mid July, that would be amazing. 
Sarah's Artistic  Endeavor.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Barn Progresses Well.

Hay bay #2 has two levels of floor!

Grain Elevator ripped off front of barn.
The help worked on digging out the second hay bay on Friday.  He got about 50% done, but in the course of cleaning he uncovered a two tiered floor.  We had no idea there was a sunken section.

The soon to be tack room got shoveled out.  We finished ripping out the tack room entrance hall obstructions.  Scraped the dried poop off the floor and got it all cleaned up.  There is now a hole in the ceiling where the wooden grain chute used to be.  I really want to make this into a hole for some stairs.  This would be the stairs to get to the storage room above the tack room.  A later project, not a current priority.  The area above the tack room door needed to be cleaned out so we can get all the trash out of the barn.  That space is where the roof needs to be repaired. Now it is accessible.

I LOVE the tractor.  We hooked onto the grain elevator on the front of the barn with a chain and pulled it down in 10 tries with the tractor.  This would have taken almost a day to do it by hand.  It took us 30 minutes with the tractor.  Another hour and we ripped off the low loose boards. The granary is another set of 2x6 turned and then tongue and groove boards on the inside.  This makes the outer walls on the two outside walls 12 inches thick.  I need to put a couple windows in and the depth of the window sill is causing me grief. 

Tack room grain free.

Grain storage bin, not a surfboard.
There was an old hand made metal grain storage container up in the loft over the tack room door.  It was maneuvered down onto a large wood pile.  I had Reagan put three large boards on a slant and told him to step back.  I was about five feet in the air balanced on a garbage wood pile.  I went to give the container a shove and it would not go.  So I got in a better position and lifted the bottom and top.  My glove got stuck on the top of the container as it started to roll down the ramp with me on top of it.  I managed to surf the damn thing down to the floor on the left side of my body.  I have a huge hematoma on my left shin, several inches across and elevated an inch away from the skin and another really nice bruise on my left forearm.  It aches, gonna be stiff in the morning.

Elevated walkway cleared off.
I found a NO SMOKIN' sign in the upper walkway.  When we get closer to finishing the inside I will mount it on a wall.  All this has been done with only 24 hours of help.  I am totally looking forward to seeing Jason come and work for a few days. 

NO SMOKIN' sign found on elevated walkway.

The Vagaries of Mother Nature

Sometime in May, Steve & I sat down and took a look at when the last batch of lambs were born and sort of estimated when we could maybe expect the next batch of deliveries to take place.  We came up with August.  So, we were pretty comfortable with the barn being in construction and the sheep wandering all over creation.  Lately, we've been trying to get a handle on the cheat grass, so the sheep have been confined to the ram pasture, near the house.  This turned out to be a fortunate decision on our part, since I discovered the error of our thought process when I looked out our bedroom window as I was getting dressed to some exercise at 5:15 this morning and noticed a ewe standing all alone at the far end of the pasture and bawling.  She was bawling because the other sheep were on the far side of the creek calling to her.  It took me a couple of moments to realize that she was staying where she was because she had a baby.  A very cute very small little baby ewe lamb.

We had some trouble getting them into the barn because Mamma really wanted to stay with the other sheep, but was conflicted because she knew she needed to stay with baby.  We eventually ran all of the sheep into the barn (I carried the baby) and then sorted out everyone but Mamma and baby.  Then we had to scrounge for all the supplies and feed that had gotten relocated in the great purge in preparation for construction, but we eventually found two feeders and got them some feed and water.  Mamma really wanted to be able to go outside, so I worked some magic with the gates and managed to give her access to fresh feed outside while still keeping the wandering area down to acceptable for the lamb.  I checked before dinner, and they are both doing fine.  We'll top off the grain and water in the morning before we leave for the 6:30 am swim practice.

Yes, Sarah is back to swimming.  I am happy, as her attitude should improve, and I know her physical fitness will improve, but dang!! That child really needs to get her driver's license so I don't have to go to town that early.

So, what did Steve & I do wrong in our estimating?  We neglected to consider those ewes who had not yet had a lamb and were about 9 months old.  This is one of those.  She's got a twin sister who could also deliver at any time, if she's pregnant, and there is another ewe about that same age.  I'm thinking we may do some sorting and confining when Steve is home later this week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Barn progress, first day of summer help.

Laying on old wheat in granary on my back looking up at roof.  Turned out great.
Just killed the barn today!  Reagan had his first work day today.  He is my summer intern (hired help).  He was still getting over being sick and was dragging butt most of the day, but he toughed it out and we got a lot accomplished.  So much that I am looking forward to him being healthy and whole. 

Second hay room, soon to be doorway/door.
I decided to just go gangbusters and cut everything out today.  We started with new outside door to the second hay bay.  I used the sawzall to cut out the vertical boards and then cut through the nails on the large 6x6 beams.  The beams would not come out.  So I got on the tractor and poked and lifted them with the bucket until they fell out.  Much easier than when Doug helped me with the other hay bay.  That took forever to get the beam out, just when you thought you had it, it would hang up.  Tractor power made it much quicker. 

Hay bay #2 external door.
I had Reagan start tearing out the granary chute and dispensing box.  They had this box with a lid on it that allowed you to scoop out grain.  Only problem was it was all made out of wood.  This was fine until you got to the fact that there was way too much animal access.  He found two "flat cats" in the bin (old dried up dessicated dead cats) and was not sure what to do with them.  I told him I had found lots of those all over the farm and I had no idea what killed the cats. 

The chute was made out of tongue and groove one inch thick boards.  They were only 2.5 inches wide and so incredibly old.  All of the one inch board cracked and splintered every time we tried to salvage it.  We finally gave up and it went much faster. 

I had to go in and totally tighten and adjust the intersection of two doors.  Both doors did not operate well, causing me to take the loose nails out of the hinges and reinstall them with screws.  I had to use lots of WD-40 to loosen up the hinges and clips to hold the doors closed.  One support had shrunk by 1.25 inches so I had to add a spacer.  I put screws in everywhere to tighten the whole thing.  It worked very well.  I just need to add a latch to keep the granary door closed.  Most likely I will use one of the horseshoe chains I had made to keep the door shut. 

Reworked gates.
Partially dismantled grain chute
 I decided to cut the doorway for the tack room today.  This will allow us to clean out all the old grain and install a ceiling.  To get at the wall we had to move the old grain cracker out.  It is on a wooden sled like arrangement.  Again, the tractor came into play, we hooked a chain up and attempted to yard it out of the barn.  It would not budge.  I had to give it a few running attempts to get the thing dislodged and moving.  Once it was out of the way we started to clean up the floor and cut the door for the tack room.  There is about 1.5 feet of grain left in the bottom of the granary.  I started to shovel some of it out, but it is going to take several hours to get it all out. 

Belt driven grain cracker for old tractor PTO drive was in barn, "Young Giant"
The granary had several metal cables welded to rod bolted through large beams all around the granary to keep it from expanding outwards.  We took down all the low ones today.  Once I get a second story floor in place we will remove the higher ones.  Because of the need to open up the granary we just started cutting into the wall of the second granary tower.  It is "L" shaped and sixteen feet high.  I am going to make two rooms from it.  One will be on the bottom floor and an attic room above it.  The attic room will have to be accessed by a ladder most likely.  This will be a home for those things that we don't want to get rid of, don't know what they are or just don't need, but cannot dispose of them.  Or it will be a place to store my good wood until I can get around to it.  I am betting good wood storage area.

"L" shaped granary.
If you look near the entire length of the top of the picture, you will see a large 6x6 inch beam.  There was one low also, but we hooked a chain onto it and jerked it out with the tractor.  It broke in half, but will still be useable for framing in my doorways into the "L".  We will take out the upper one next week after getting the cables removed from them.  Surprisingly, the cables were easy to remove, the nuts came right off with a little wire brushing and WD-40.   Reagan's job for tomorrow is just to clean out all the barn.  Throw out all the wood (junk to the left of the door outside and reusable to the right), shovel out all the dust and grain.  Make the place look good. 

Barn entrance, tack room just to the left, future stairs.

Future tack room

Barn Floor 2/4ths done.

2/4 finished floor.

I managed to finish the center section of the barn floor yesterday morning.  It only took about four hours.  I have 64 sq feet of tongue and groove flooring left.  It was just enough to do the job.  I still have the end section, buried in old flooring and sheep feeders, and the left side - future home of the jugs (sheep creches).  I think the floor is on hold for a while now.  I need to get the other side of the hay storage cleaned out and outside doors installed.  Once that is done the front of the barn needs to be emptied so there is room to work on the roof.  The only problem with the roof is the material for it is still installed in the other two buildings that need to be torn down.  My help starts work on Thursday.  We are going to get the second hay area up to speed, then empty the front of the barn.

I still have 20 hens.  I may lose another one, but I think she may be egg bound and there is nothing you can do for that.  She will get better or die in the next week.  On a plus side, the chicken door guy got back to me and he is going to fix the automatic chicken door!  I removed the door yesterday and packaged it.  I am going to send him my two broken Chicken Butler doors also, three large packages ready to be mailed in the pickup.  I will drop them off today.  He had some ideas for a stronger door.  This makes me very happy.  Having to remember to go out every night and lock up the chickens is a losing proposition.  Eventually, you will forget and the predators never forget. I need to get some more baby chickens to make up the difference.  A dozen would do the job, unfortunately, I need to clean out the coop first.  A solid day of shoveling and cleaning.  The days just keep adding up.

I have removed an entire pickup load of scrap wood from inside the house. I had left overs from the stair project.  I finished the stairs 1-2 years ago.  The biggest loss is Annmarie is never again going to allow me to install the compound miter saw on the breeze porch so I can cut wood inside the house.  I have forever lost ground!  Now the closest I can get is the old house porch and if she has her way I will be inside the old house away from sight.  Cannot do that until I get some power inside the old house.  Before I can really do that I need to add some flooring in the attic so there is room to remove the rest of the boxes out of the old house. I have the most of the stuff for the attic already purchased.  It just needs to be cut and installed.

There are no tools left inside the house now either.  It took me five trips using boxes and five gallon buckets to take all the tools out.  Thus necessitating a good cleaning and organizing day in the old house/shop.  It is getting hard to walk around in there.  The back door window broke in a windstorm over the winter.  I need to do something with this also, the window broke because the door is falling apart.  That is caused by the building not being level.  It just has to wait, the barn is the first priority.   I can see that the old house is going to be a next year project.  Even if I only give it about six weeks, I could get it leveled and skirted appropriately.  Once that is done, I can start working on wiring it for the wood shop equipment (220V).

Sarah leading the horses out of the yard.  They still eat my bushes and leave bigger doughnut piles.

I posted an add on Craigslist for the lambs on Friday, so far the only bite I got was some guy claiming to be in the military who wanted to pay me via Paypal.   We were okay with that and already have an account, so I sent him the contact information.  He had said someone else would come pick the animals up.  His return email gave me the song and dance about wiring the money to his contact after I received payment via Paypal, total scam.  I told him to hit the road and not bother contacting me again.  Surprisingly, he did.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Barn floor continues

It is June and we continue to have April weather.

I keep sneaking out to the barn to get in some more floor time.  Since Annmarie's dad died last week I have been cleaning house nonstop.  I have almost all the tools out of the house and tomorrow I am going to remove the last of the wood from the breeze porch.  I took the compound miter saw off of the breeze porch last year and had not removed all the wood.  I had moved the wood from the upstairs bathroom to the breeze porch, does that count?
We bought furniture today with Annmarie's "window sill" money she had been making me save.  So those inside window sills are going to take a while longer.  I have even been reorganizing the attic to make more things fit up there.  At this rate I am going to have to finish part of the attic floor before I can empty out the last of the stuff in the old house (eventually my wood shop).  There is not a lot of free space in the attic left.  In the far future, I would like to build some enclosed cabinets in the attic.

I think it is landing on the CRP.

The floor of the barn is coming along nicely.  I am going to have enough new tongue and groove to complete the center section.  I only have 10 feet left.  In inches this is 120 inches, each 2x6 is only five inches wide due to the tongue and groove process.  So I need to lay down another 24 rows.  Each row has 1.5 boards meaning I need to dig another 36 boards out of the hay room before I can be done.  The floor is incredibly sturdy now.  The tongue and groove is really going together well and as I screw it down to the supports it just locks into place.  I have used most of the scraps I had left over from the right side to fix this floor.  Whenever I come across a large knot that may eventually fall out I take a short leftover section of flooring and screw it onto the bottom of my new floor.  I usually screw it into three separate boards so it is held in place.  That way if the knot falls out then the sheep's legs cannot fall through and get broken.  It looks weird from underneath the floor.

My help starts next week on Thursday.  I am looking forward to that.  Hopefully, it quits raining by then and I can get him to tear off the low roof off the old lamb shed.  In the picture above you can see the low side of the lamb shed on the right side of the picture.  That part of the shed is getting ripped down and reused on the barn.  We are doing the ultimate recycle project.

My mess is not moving itself. 

Yes there are two different kinds of wood on the floor.
I am going to reuse those long boards just past the unfinished floor for fencing in the sheep sorting yard.  They used to be on the floor.  The pen will be strong enough to hold an angry cow, just not big enough!  It is a great way to reuse them and not worry so much about the rotted and warped sections.  That will only leave me about 35 boards left over and I don't think it is enough to do the five foot section on the right hand side.  I think I am going to try and reuse the floor from the old granary for the floor under the mess and alongside this new floor, there should be enough.

One of the drawbacks to reusing old wood is it is very very tough.  As in "iron like".  I have broken over 20 driver tips already.  I think it is going to take me almost 40 tips just to do the floor. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Predators 6, Farm 1

The lack of an automatic chicken door is starting to catch up with me.  I counted chickens tonight after returning from vacation and we are down to 20 hens and 1 rooster.  The predators are winning.  Our house sitter nabbed a very large raccoon while we were gone so I am counting that one for our team.  As usual, the home team is trying to play catch up.  Soon, I should have some free time and can message the auto chicken door guy and hopefully get some feed back as to why the door does not work.  Until then, we try and lock up the chickens each night.  I did lock them up tonight and set the live trap.

The sunset was beautiful tonight.