Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clean up continues

We spent the whole day cleaning up, it is not very sexy.  There is one more load to be thrown into the trailer.  Mr. President is going to do that tomorrow and finish cleaning up inside.  When he is done with that the roof piece that blew off the barn needs to be cut up with the sawzall so it can be hauled up to the hillside.  Mr. President is afraid of bees/hornets/yellow jackets.  It is official.  I wanted him to cut up the old grain elevator with the sawzall while I took a load up to the pile and dumped it off.  When I came back the sawzall was out but nothing had been cut.  There were about 10 hornets buzzing around and he didn't want to get stung.  I cut the whole thing up without getting stung.  We loaded 1/2 of it but by the time we filled the trailer there were probably fifty hornets flying around.  I told Mr. President to pick up some spray and hose them first thing in the morning.  Even I didn't want to move the wood with that many hornets flying around. 

I need to go get clean.  It is hot and dusty outside, running around 90 F.  Zeke was filthy so I hosed him off and found a tick.  Tonight I will put tick medicine back on him.  The ticks had gone away, but that rain a couple of weeks ago brought them back out.  

We have started to turn the cows and sheep out onto the main pasture.  Just not enough green down by the house.  Next year I am going to have to get a water pump in the front creek.  If I can get the one right in front of our house up and running I can probably put off the main irrigation pump for another year.  I need to get the aluminum pipe straightened and repaired before the irrigation pump can be used.  I want to plant some grass seed this fall, but who knows if I will have the time. 

I figure one more day to finish the roof, one more day to finish the floor, one more day to make all three doors and two days to side the front of the barn.  Then two days to make the feeders and 10 days to move the fencing all around.  This is my goal, this is my pronouncement. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Catching up

We got the hay in, around 6.5 tons.  I drove the pickup and Mr. President and my nephew piled them onto the trailer.  When we got back to the barn I stacked them in the barn.  So my turn did come and they are heavy and 7 ton is around my limit.  I thought I would die!  I bucked up and did not go take a nap that afternoon.  Mr. President was surprised by a snake under the bale lying on the ground.  It was only a bull snake, but it surprised him.  The sheep dung piles are vanishing.  Mr. President has a small pile left and it will all be located in a central spot ready for water so it can compost. 

We spent the day cleaning up the barn.  Annmarie wants me to get everything out and it all cleaned up so if the new job doesn't allow me to get back out there it will still be useable.  Mind you, I think that I will have some time to work on it but I have no idea what my training schedule will be like so we are just getting ready. 

We put 2.5 tons of hay in the old lamb shed for the cows this winter.  We will feed the cows out of the back of the lamb shed and the sheep will eat in the barn.  I am starting to get tired, going to have to actually take a day off soon.  I cannot keep this pace up forever, and I despise the heat.  It is supposed to be 90 degrees F all week long.  Once we get everything cleaned up I will take a bunch of pictures and catch everyone up. 

I have to buy more wood for the floor.  I am going to buy another unit of tongue and groove 2x6 eight footers, 189 boards.  They are selling it to me for $330/1000bf, an incredible price.  We want to get the whole floor covered.  I think I can finish the floors in three days alone.  This week I will pick up the unit so Mr. President can help me unload it into the barn. 

Jason came over and we picked through the granary and found all the useable scrap metal.  We salvaged two shelves for the tack room (I had to cut them down they were 2 inches too tall).  We pulled out the grain mixer (700# capacity) 1 hp motor and drug it over to the barn with the tractor.  The bucket on the tractor was needed to let the mixer down onto its side.  We salvaged a chatham mill that was full of various types of animal feces. I think it is mostly cleaned out, but boy it needs a bag of charcoal to absorb some of the smell.  I am quickly filling up the newly created storage areas with old stuff.  The front of the barn is mostly missing.  I want to get the boards up but the old wood pile is in the way.  Soon, very soon it will all be done.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fancy barn door in progress

I spent the afternoon with Mr. President constructing a work of art.  A door to last the ages.  I wanted a door within a door.  I wanted a small sliding door for the sheep to go through inside the whole door.  The trouble was how to make it stiff enough to have a hollow center.  I ended up using 2x6 on the outside and then creating two frames and joining them with the 2x6s. We then sheathed the door with 1x12 rough cut boards.  The door weighed almost 200 pounds.  It is massive, four feet high and six feet wide. 

We wrestled it into the door opening and used large long bolts to attach them to the main beam.  I have 8 more bolts to attach before we can test the door.  There is a sliding door inside the door, 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall.  We can open the sheep door without opening the large main door. 

I was giving Mr. President some flack about getting stung this afternoon.  He said he hadn't been stung in three years.  I told him that was too long ago to truly remember what it felt like.  Not ten minutes later as I strolled by the honey bee hive opening I got stung on the back of the neck.  It did not feel good, but it was tolerable.  I caught quite a bit of flack.  I think I was just too close to the hive opening. 

Tomorrow is hay pickup day.  We are going to start up early and bring in all the hay left in the field, about 6.5 tons.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Double tin today

2/3 finished with low section of the barn.
Screws are killing me.  We were doing the upper layer of roofing and 1.5 inches was not long enough.  We had to stop and I had to call four different stores before I found one in the whole town that had them.  I went in and bought 10#.  We used about 12# of screws just today.  I also special ordered another 10 bags (1000 screws) of the 3/8 screws (big).  I need those to cover up the big holes left in the sheet metal when pulling the old nails was difficult.  I have to go to town tomorrow and I will get the last of the long roofing screws at the hardware store.  They are 2.5 inches long and all the boxes were covered in dust.  I am guessing not a popular item.  Sucks to be the next guy that needs some.  By the time I am done with the barn I figure at least 100 pounds of screws will have gone into it, screws run any where from $3-$8/lb. 

The tin is going far further than I thought it would.  We found another 11 pieces in the old granary.  Those are the shiny new pieces on the top left of the above picture.  They were brand new with no holes.  The long pieces are 16 feet long and the new pieces were 12 feet long.  The old ones that are bent and going up the steep roof are 14 feet long.  Mr. President and I just kicked and beat them into a bend to make the angle change.  It is working so we are going to stick with the method.  The steep roof is 16 feet to the peak.  I am not going to get this covered.  It is a project for next summer.  I do know the measurement now so I will be able to predict how much tin I will need for that project.  We still have over 10 pieces of the 16 footers and more than that in the 14 feet.  We are going to be so close to finishing the entire low roof!  If we don't get the whole thing done there will only be a couple of feet unfinished.  I will go and buy what is needed to finish it at that point.  I had only envisioned about half the roof done. 

Twin girls in the yard next to momma.
The sheep escaped from the orchard pasture this afternoon.  Annmarie and I went and walked the fence line.  There is a large hole down at the other end where the flood had removed four feet of dirt.  The weeds had made a nice barrier.  The sheep ate all the weeds.  So now I need a panel to cover the V-shaped hole under the fence.  This meant that we needed to go get the sheep and bring them in.  Zeke has been in puppy prison since his attack on the ewe momma.  I have been keeping close tabs on him when we are outside and he doesn't even get to go outside without sitting and waiting for a release command.  It was test time for the dog.  We had one ewe in the yard and I took him out to scoot her to the other side of the yard.  Zeke was pretty good.  He would lay and stay on command.  The ewe was not good.  She kept stomping her front hooves in the ground and would not give way.  I had to walk up to her and give her a knee to get her moving.  I had Zeke scoot a little closer and finally the ewe charged him.  He raised hell, growling and jumping on her side.  I called him off and in the mayhem one of the babies got separated from the momma and ran with Zeke.  He left the baby alone and she finally cried so momma would come get her.  Not perfect but not his fault either.  So Annmarie and I went out the upper gate and onto the back hillside.  I am proud to report that the spray is killing the star thistle.  Most of it is dying.  I saw a handful of healthy plants on the hillside while we were walking (thousands died).  First, Zeke spotted the sheep, Annmarie and I were headed left, the sheep were actually to our right.  He herded the sheep back to the ram pasture with virtually no input from us.  It was quite amazing.  He did a fantastic job.  By next year I hope to be able to open the gate and just tell Zeke to go get them and bring them to me.  Totally think this is going to happen. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tin going up on roof.

Resident buck   He lives next to the grain bins.
We know have a resident buck deer.  The females have been living here for years but never a buck.  He stays right next to the grain silos during the day.  They are in direct view of our front living room window.  I see him hunched down and sleeping all the time during the day. 

One of our ewes had twins yesterday, two girls.  She had triplets but one of them was stillborn.  I had to take it up to the bone pile.  The girls are doing fine.  Momma likes hanging out in the yard next to the house.  The grass is very green and there is lots of shade.  Zeke has not been too bad. 
Newborn baby girls x2.

Roof ready for tin.
I spent all day Sunday getting the barn roof ready for tin roofing.  I finished cutting loose the old torn up wooden roof and installed all the cross braces.  The cross pieces are all 2x6 so they should be plenty strong.  The first pieces I am putting on are 16 feet long.  The other pieces are 14 feet long.  This is going to force me to bend them in half and run them up the steep part of the roof.  It will look odd for a while until I can get the entire side roofed.  I simply do not have enough tin to do the entire side.  I will have to purchase some more used from the local salvage yard.  He has been saving it for me.  I buy it by the pound.  On a side note, when of the things I had not counted on was the cost of the roofing screws.  The cheap ones are $8/pound.  I need some large ones to fill the old holes from when we pulled the nails out.  Those cost about $16/100.  It is crazy how expensive the screws are going to be.  I have just started roofing and have already used 300 of the special order screws.  I just went and purchased 10# of 1.5 inch roofing screws today.  I have already used 25% of them .  I expect to spend over $500 on just screws for the barn.  I totally overlooked this expense when budgeting for the barn. 
Completed jugs.

I fixed the latches on all the jugs except one.  I took a latch off of a door in the lamb shed and I cannot find the dang thing.  I looked all over but the inside of the barn is a mess and stuff is scattered everywhere.  I will find it eventually or go snag another one.  I finished fixing the tack room door today.  It needed some door edging so I could mount the latch mechanism.  It has a hole through the bar so the latch can be reached from both sides.  I found an old broom handle that fit the hole and pounded it in place.  You can now go in and out from both sides without difficulty.  We got the ceiling supports in place and started laying the first layer of the floor. I am using 1x12 in two layers to cover the tack room ceiling. We had to switch to inside work once the wind started up today.  I may have to have Mr. President up on the roof with me tomorrow just so he can keep the tin from blowing off while I screw it down. I checked the calendar and Mr President only has a couple more weeks of work.  He wants to go off to college and live the good life and I am going to run out of money.  So the next big push is to get the tin on the roof, and the wood scrap pile up to the burn pile.  Once that is done we can empty out the old granary so I can pull it down and start salvaging wood from the roof and the floor.  It is going to be a fast two weeks.

Old granary door now the tack room door.
Tin going up on roof today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Barn Goals 1 of 3 completed.

The jugs (creches) are finished.  I have six pens for newborn babies and mommas to stay in for the first few days of the babies lives.  This bonding time cements the moms to the newborns.  We had one baby this spring bond to the whole flock and had to go to a new home to be bottle fed. There is room for 1-2 more pens if needed.  The pens are all different sizes.  We reused the old doors from the old lamb shed (now tractor/mule storage area).  They were made to fit that building and unbeknownst to me they were multiple different sizes.  Luckily, the size difference was apparent when we laid the doors out along the back wall.  So the jugs were built one at a time to fit the doors.  I had to custom make one door as the jug straddled a large pillar support.  I even remembered to make a gap in the side planks for water buckets and feeders to be hung.  This completes 1 of 3 barn goals for the summer.

This weekend it is all about the roof.  I have done the math and guesstimate (fairly well) that there is enough tin to cover 2/3 of the lower roof.  Putting on the tin and cleaning up next to the barn is the new priority.  I would like to get the lot near the barn all cleaned up and ready for fencing. 

The weather is totally screwing things up.  There is oat hay cut and down on the ground attempting to dry on the upper pasture.  Rain and thunderstorms every evening/night are not helping.  We are not sure the hay is going to dry before it molds.  If it molds we will be buying hay again this year to get through the winter. 

On a side note, I applied for a new job closer to home.  It is in Pendleton only 15 miles from our home.  I would be home 40% more than I am now.  Annmarie helped me pick out my interview outfit (doesn't everyone's wife help them dress?).  One thing we had not considered was how the barn work would change my shirt size.  I used to wear a 15 inch neck.  We had to try on most of the shirts in my closet to find a 15 1/2 I could button closed.  It was snug, but I could swallow and a tie would go on over the shirt now. 
The interview was at a local hotel conference room.  I showed up early to verify the location.  I had time to kill so I went off and bought a coffee at a new coffee roaster shop in town.  I showed up 10 minutes early and sat down in the lobby.  I saw the last candidate go by and the front receptionist asked him how it went, his response was "good but it lasted an hour".  This struck a chord with me and I asked the receptionist were the bathroom was located with five minutes to spare before my interview. 
At this point it turned into a "National Lampoon's" scene.  I finished my upright business quickly and turned to wash my hands.  I stepped right up to the counter and started scrubbing my hands quickly when it happened.  I felt wetness on the right side of my crotch!  I looked down and the water from the counter had formed a wet spot on the right side of my crotch near my zipper.  I totally panicked, sweat beads popped up on my head and I made a rash decision.  My hands were dripping wet so I flicked water all over the front of my pants.  I thought maybe I could disguise the water spot with more water.   NOPE, this just made things worse, now my light colored pants look liked I had peed myself then gotten in a water fight with a 3 year old.  I frantically check my watch, 3 minutes until interview time.  I rush to the bathroom stall grab some toilet paper and start rubbing furiously on the outside of my pants.  It was kinda working but it was still obviously a large wet spot on my crotch.  At this point I remember I had placed a cotton handkerchief in my back pocket (for after the interview in case it didn't go well!).  I dropped my trousers, stretched them between my knees and started furiously rubbing them dry with my lifesaving device.  Two minutes later it was dry enough you could not see the wet spot.  Thank goodness for natural fibers.  I swabbed the sweat off my forehead, went out and sat down to wait for my interview.  Three minutes later someone came down to get me.  Where is a man bag when you need one?  I forgot about the hand towels in the bathroom, I forgot to shut the stall door, good thing no one came in.  The interview went well from my perspective.  I will know by this weekend If I get the job.  Sometimes you just cannot make this stuff up.

The weeds are slowly dying.  They have started to wilt but are not just keeling over and dying.  The sprays usually mess with some enzyme or something so the plants basically starve to death, a slow process.  Burning is much more satisfying.

We pulled the old main door off the granary to use as the tack room door.  It is only a few inches too tall and too wide.  The sawzall will fix that in a jiffy.  That leaves on other door on the granary to salvage.  We are going to have to spend one day salvaging material from the granary before I tear it down with the tractor.

It is pouring down horizontal rain right now.  The baby lambs and moms are running for the barn to get out of the weather.  This is messing up plans to finish the roof and use the tractor to finish moving the sheep dung.  Okay, glad we don't have wheat, the 1/2 inch hail just started pouring out of the sky, tree leaves are getting ripped right off.  The lawn is turning white.  Ugh, mother nature is embracing her woman hood.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Executive Decision.

Soon to be jugs (creches) (pens for newborns and mommas).
 I made an executive decision this morning, NO Roofing today!  After yesterday I was not in a mood to crawl up on a roof and deal with hot metal.  I even put on a long sleeve shirt prior to going out with the good intention of actually roofing.  Once out in the heat, I just could not make myself crawl up on the roof.  I didn't really want to do anything, but that won't help me get finished.

So we went over and loaded up the tin onto the trailer.  The tin pieces off the granary are 15 feet long and the tin off the hog enclosure are 12 feet long.  I did the math and to cover the lower barn roof I have enough tin to cover 42 feet (2/3 of the lower roof).  More than I had anticipated initially.  Enough to make a good run at it and know how much more I will need to buy.

Storage bins for buckets and feeders
 When we were loading up the tin it dawned on me I could use the old concrete forms as flooring in the barn where I wanted to add the jugs.  So Mr. President and I dug around inside the granary.  We found another old window, some fancy wheel gear thing (cool decoration for barn) and some two sided wooden things (not sure what they were used for).  Only about 1/3 of the concrete forms were useable for our purposes.  Most of them were coated in oil (it keeps the concrete from sticking to them) and I don't want the sheep laying on them.  We were able to get enough to use as flooring for six jugs.  Plenty for our purposes in the future.  We will build all six now, but in reality we probably only need three currently, the others are for herd growth.  I can even add two more if needed.
New two story storage area, in process.
We used the L-shaped things we found in the granary to make a couple of storage bins for feeders, buckets, water buckets and various other containers we seem to use in the barn.  I made two separate containers after adding a new floor to the area.  I went out and salvaged about 8 buckets from the old lamb shed.  They will need to be soaked and scrubbed out first, but after that good as new.

Annmarie wanted me to tear out the jugs in the lamb shed and use all the wood in the barn.  It was not coming out easily or intact so I salvaged all the doors with attached hinges.  The only problem with that is the doors are various widths!  So I am making the jugs one at a time to fit each door.  It took me a while to get a design that was sturdy enough.  I thought I was going to have to add a beam that ran from the floor to the overhead walkway, but managed to stiffen the sides by using 2x6 boards and adding a 2x4 kickboard under the doors.  I only have one wall up so it isn't real easy to see where I am headed yet.  This is one of the "Big Three" projects for the summer (Fix barn roof, build jugs, build feeders).  So I will work on it early next week again.

This is an old granary with the inside cut out, it is L-shaped.  The horizontal board you see inside the room is going to be a support for the floor.  I am going to make two rooms out of this so we have more storage area.  Most likely, this will be an area for storing some left over lumber.  The hay rooms have lumber in both of them.  I just remembered that I will probably be picking up hay on Monday, not doing anything else.  I had totally forgotten about it. 
I love my impact drill!  It is the only reason I can drive any screw in the barn.  The wood is so hard there is no way I can make any headway with a normal drill.  The last few days it has been getting very warm when I use it for longer than 15 minutes.  Well today I smelt something burning and it was getting so hot I could not hardly hold it with leather gloves on my hands.  I actually had to give it a rest every few minutes so I could continue to use it.  This does not bode well for the life of this handy device.  The worst part is it is brand new last year.  I have used it to death.

Roofing progress, making headway.

Grain auger at sunset, courtesy of Sarah.  I guess that college photography class paid off.

West side of granary roof.
 It is really happening!  We spent yesterday finishing the roof removal on the granary.  If you look at the picture you can see the wall falling apart.  It was that way before we started in on the roof.  I was just glad it didn't give way while we were crawling around.  You can even see that I have not crawled up and unscrewed the safety ropes from the anchors at the peak.  Will have to do that eventually, sooner rather than later.  The West side was Mr. President's and was nailed down.  The East side was mine and it was all screwed down.  I finished mine in a few hours and did a little bit for Mr. President.  He spent 8 hours on the roof in 100 degree weather.  He did get it finished.
East side of granary roof

Baby lamb, they are so cute. 
I had to go spray another 10 acres.  I sprayed the bottoms and hill side down by the school house.  The weeds were thick!  In a few weeks I am going to have to take the mower down there and mow all the dead stuff.  Gotta get the roof on the barn first.  Still more spraying to do in the upper fields and up by the bone pile. 

We have two sets of twins currently.  One boy and girl from each mother.

The back creek stopped flowing yesterday.  I had to drive across it with the mule and it just kept slowly dropping until by late evening it was running no more.  I don't see it picking up again any time soon with this hot weather expecting to stay. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Granary roof winning.

Today was the day Mr. President got up on the granary roof to remove some tin.  This meant that I had to spend 45 minutes getting all the safety gear set up and in place.  If he falls off the roof I don't want his mother
coming back to me, so he wore the harness all day long while he was on the roof.  He only almost went off the roof face first once.  The roof is a pretty steep pitch.  Once the first piece of tin was off there would be a place to stand.  It just was not happening.  My ladder is about 10 feet too short.  I really need a 30 foot ladder and those are not very common or very cheap.  I tried to get the nails but straddling the roof and holding on while trying to pry screws out was not easy nor fast.  I finally ended up screwing a standing block directly onto the tin that allowed me to pull the nails above it.  Once the first piece was gone it went much faster.  One side of the roof is fairly modern.  The East side is new tin held in place with screws and the West side has those old galvanized twisted nails.  I am working on the modern side and it is fairly obvious why it needed to be replaced, the boards underneath are rotten and brittle.  I have already broke two different boards, yes, I am also wearing a harness.  It will hurt when I fall, but I won't die. 

I spent the morning spraying again today.  I am all the way down by the bluffs now.  I am still concentrating on the upper hillside.  The star thistle is the worst on the dry hot hilllside.  I ran out of 2-4-D today and had get some more.  I will spray the bottoms last as they are mostly just Russian thistle and 2-4-d will kill it.  The fancy spray is for the hillside.

At 1500 today I was done working on the tin roof.  It was just too hot.  I drank over 2 gallons of liquid today.  I never drink that much fluid.  We went into the barn and worked on the inside cleaning up nails and getting ready for the second elevated storage room from the grain tower conversion.

When I was spraying I saw lots of baby birds, baby woodpeckers, blackbirds and a whole covey of Hungarian Partridges (around 20 birds).  The most Huns I have seen on the property have been five a couple of years ago.  I am hoping they make it to adulthood. I did see the baby deer twins up on top of the hillside. I saw the little two point buck this evening as he wandered down to the front creek in front of the house for a drink of water.  He is living by the metal grain bins.

Side note, the mule has 1250 hours on it after the engine rebuild.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Storm slowed progress

Cross brace progress.
 We had a very nice rain and wind storm this morning.  It totally altered the plans of the day.  I was going to spend most of the morning spraying weeds while Mr. President worked on tearing down the granary roof.  The storm totally changed that, wind, lightning and rain does not make it conducive to being on the roof.  I opted to work inside the barn.  We built window frames for the new tack room.  Once we had the frames we then had to cut holes in the end of the barn and then install them.  One was a used bathroom window I picked up at a yard sale for $10 and the other is an old wooden window I got from my parents for free.  We also framed out the door for the tack room.  Mr. President cut out all the overhead broken beams and exposed all the wall framing so we can add new beams to raise the ceiling.
Windows into future tack room.

Tack room windows, inside view.

Bungee automatic door closer.
 After lunch, we started back in on the roof.  I installed the cross beams and Mr. President cleaned up the barn and tack room. 

After dinner I went back outside to try and do some weed spraying.  I only managed to squeeze in one sprayer full.  MILESTONE is a name to remember.  Yes it is very very expensive, but boy howdy does it work!  The star thistle that I sprayed yesterday is already starting to wilt.  It is amazing.  I had to stop spraying because another storm was rolling up to the house.  Luckily, it did not rain, just lightning and wind tonight. 

Ewe #16 had twins this morning, a boy and a girl.  Annmarie and I managed to get her into the yard first thing this morning.  They hung out in the yard all day then this evening we took them over to the barn lot and locked them up with the other mother ewe and her twins.    When I noticed this morning at 0500 she had just had the babies as there was afterbirth still hanging out of the ewe.  We wanted to give them some bonding time before moving them. 

Zeke is doing some weird snorting thing tonight.  Not sure what is going on with him.
Soon to be removed granary.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spraying fool today.

Roof cross pieces going up
 I started spraying today first thing this morning.  I am going to need more 2-4-D.  The really expensive herbicide I had extra, but I am going to run out of 2-4-D tomorrow.  I forgot how rough the ride can be when you are creeping over and around the rocks on the steep hillside.  Luckily, I wear the seat belt provided in the mule and did not get bucked out.  Almost slid out one time as it was.  I am about 1/4 done with the spraying.  The stuff is amazing, just 2 hours after spraying the weeds some of them were already wilting.  All you non chemical people can just come to our house and bring a shovel and all summer long and you could not do all the weeding I am going to do in 5 days on the mule with some modern chemicals.  Once we get the star thistle back under control then I can go back to spot spraying. It has just been let go too long. 
Lamb shed ready for a new side.  Dung pile gone.

Dexter cows hanging in the shade.
Mr. President finished up the dung pile next to the old lamb shed today.  It is all ready for siding (after I put in some cross pieces to attach the siding.

We did manage to get about an hour on the barn roof.  I screwed down the supports today and we started to put in the cross beams.  I am hoping to get those fully installed tomorrow after the weather quits cooperating with the weed spraying (wind blows).  Mr. President is going to start tearing off the old granary tin roof tomorrow.  We have to install two safety points so he can hook in his fall harness.  Plus the cell phone in his pocket is necessary to call for help.  He tells me he does some rock climbing so he can probably get himself upright.  Hopefully, he doesn't fall and the safety equipment is just a pain in the butt.  I will make him wear it.  Better safe then sorry after falling off the roof.

The mule spray setup has arms that you extend, four feet to a side so you can spray a 12 foot swath.  These arms are on a swivel/spring setup so if you hit something the arm bends back and then snaps back into place.  What they don't tell you is the plastic nozzles do not tolerate getting banged into hard objects.  I broke two this morning and had to have Annmarie pick up spares.  The nozzles have very small holes and kept getting clogged up with particles.  I would stop and clean out the offending nozzle and then continue on.  I now have a bucket in the back with some tools and the spare parts needed to fix the sprayer instantly.

Stupid horses got in the yard and would not leave.  Hogs, kept eating the green apples off our apple tree in the front yard.  I tried chasing her away but she just kept coming back.  I finally just gave up.  Especially, since I cannot let the dog chase the horses out of the yard.  Zeke is adjusting to his life in lock down.  When I was off spraying he had to stay on the run, and as soon as I got back I let him off.  After three weeks Zeke will finally let Mr. President pet him.  
The green/blue color on the hillside is star thistle a noxious weed.  The reason I am spraying every thing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weed killing machine.

Bees swarming

Hanging out waiting for reports.
 I just saw these pictures of the bee swarm.  I kinda wish I had seen it in person.  Looks pretty cool.  No go on the sheep dog trials today.  We drove over there and could not find any thing so we stopped at a coffee shop to get directions (and coffee).  Wrong weekend, next weekend is the big event.  Instead, we took some back roads home and did our in town shopping.

Once at home I dug in to converting the mule from a mild mannered four wheel transport device to a Weed Killing Nemesis.  I knew this was going to necessitate several trips to the hardware store.  Yep, I managed to get it together and working in two trips, but still need one more trip in the morning to get the last two U-bolts.  I had to rewire the the switch and add in all new wires.  The old ones got ripped off.  I added some wire tires with premade loops and ran all the wires through them to keep them in place and not rubbing on the metal.  I had to add another ground wire while I was at it.  The boom has 8 spray nozzles on it and I replaced four of them.  Amazingly, when I flipped the switch the sprayer came right on.  I added some pressure treated 2x4s on each side and bolted those in place.  This creates a support that I was able to bolt the sprayer arms

Repaired mule ready to be transformed

Weed Killing machine
onto.  I also added in a piece of 2x6 to hold the sprayer tank in place so it doesn't bounce around in the bed of the mule.  I was going to store all the chemicals in the back of the mule.  But after further thought decided this was unnecessary as I have to fill up with water every time I need new chemicals in the tank.  I will just stage the chemicals next to the hose I plan on using to fill the tank.  Tomorrow I spray the whole place.  I just hope the wind doesn't blow.

Mr. President almost finished with the hog pile of poop.  I went up today and spent a little time cleaning it all up away from the building.  He will still need to pick up the last of the pile.  After tomorrow it will be all done.  I am going to have him work on the other two piles after that.  I need to spray then we can work on the roof again.  I need to kill a lot of star thistle.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt".

Earlier in the week I was out at the barn and noticed a new momma and her baby hanging out by the barn (ewe#13).  Turns out there were twins, a boy and a girl.  I thought they had just been born that morning as Annmarie had not said anything over the weekend.  Once she came home and looked at the babies it was decided that they were several days old.  The mother had been hiding and sheltering them from our view.  We kept them separated for a couple of days and then let them out into the orchard with the herd and the horses.  Two days later Annmarie had to remove the horses as they were harassing the babies and both of the babies were limping.  This morning when Annmarie was out moving sprinklers in the orchard, Zeke tore off after the sheep.  The momma ewe refused to give any ground and Zeke tore into her.  He cut her side and nose in two places before Annmarie got over there and called him off.  The dog doesn't even get to pee now without a command!  He is on total lockdown and we are now looking for a trainer for him (and me...).  We may have found one today while helping out at the local swim team meet.  We will see. 

Mr. President worked today on removing the hog/sheep dung pile so we can put the siding back on the old lamb shed.  He got it all cleaned up and ready for new siding!  I spent a couple of hours screwing down the roof supports.  I also went and picked up all the roof cross braces today.  Unfortunately, the weed spraying is going to take priority of my time this weekend.  Tomorrow morning we are going to go see the sheep dog trials at the local Caledonian days.  After that, it is fixing the sprayer to attach it to the mule so I can kill some weeds.  On Sunday, I think we may be able to start in on the roof again.  I would like to get all the braces in place and lay up the tin we currently have.  Next week, Mr. President starts tearing the roof off of the granary. 

I need to get the roof done so I can work on the sheep jugs so we have a place to put those new babies and mommies.  After that, I need to make four feeders for the winter.  Annmarie also said that our bee hive swarmed over the weekend.  This means they sent out a queen bee and about 2/3 of the hive to live someplace else.  The hive was still active today.  Looks good for us getting some honey out of it this fall. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Barn Roof Cometh

Rising moon last night.
 It is time to wage war on the weeds again.  I have mowed twice already.  The mule is running, I have emptied out the back and started measuring for the wood support.  I went to the grain growers and asked about herbicide that will kill star thistle as it is taking over the entire back hillside.  They told me there was a great new product called "Milestone" that stops the star thistle when mixed with 2-4-D and does not kill grass.  The trouble is this stuff is more expensive than good whiskey.  Enough chemicals to spray 30 acres cost just over $1600.  I was way under dosing on chemicals earlier in the year.  So this weekend, the weed war will begin again. 

I don't want to plan too much for the weekend because we are going to go to the sheep dog trials on Saturday.  Zeke is staying home.  We are looking for some pointers on training the dog. 

The barn is moving right along.  I want to be done!  Unfortunately, it just keeps going.  Yesterday we cut out another 6 feet of roof and tugged it out of the barn with the tractor.  I love the tractor.  The support boards were split in two and not salvageable.  We also added another 6 feet of elevated walkway supports.  I also managed to get the grain silo elevated on its own platform.  It was very heavy and Mr. President and I almost did not get it up on its stand.  Today, we concentrated on finishing the roof beams.  I only miscut one out of 12.  They were easier with the six feet of roof missing.  The two we had to finagle in under the roof were painful.  Mr. President managed to get his hand pinned against the underside of the roof by one of the beams.  The problem with this is the roof is covered in cedar shake nails.  He drove a nail about 1/2 inch into one of his fingers.  I let him go early today.  Last week he stepped on a nail.  I checked last week and he is current on his tetanus. 

I attached hurricane straps to the support beams on the low wall today.  I used three large screws and attached it to the wall then I added the hurricane strap.  There will be no more wind tearing off the roof.  The only thing is the hangers are pretty ugly, but function is trumping beauty at this point.  I am going to attach the hangers to both ends of the beams.  All the beams are in place and just need to be attached at the upper end.  I had plans for using some of the 1x12inch boards to run across the beams, no such luck.  Leaving the cedar shakes on the barn raises the roof 2 inches above the beams.  I talked with Annmarie and I am going to have to make another lumber yard purchase of 30 boards 2x6 inches 20 feet long.  The nice part about this is the hole is only 19 feet long wide.  I can just screw on the boards and then come by with a sawzall to cut off all the hanging edges.  By next week the metal roof will be in place and I can move on to fixing the jugs inside.  We still need to pull off the part of the roof that blew off.  It is laying upside down on the roof of the barn.  My ladder is leaning up against the broken part of the roof.  I am hoping to just hook onto it with the tractor and pull!

Soon to be roof.