Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cooktop works!

Ready for cooktop install.
The morning started out fairly calm.  Annmarie asked me why I did not lock the sheep up last night.  I said I did, she noted the many sheep on the back hillside.  She was putting on makeup in the mirror propped up in the window.  I deigned to get out of bed to verify for myself.  I believed her.  It dawned on me while I lay there in our cozy warm bed that I had forgotten to shut the barn door.  The reason is after I fed everyone Zeke and I were leaving the barn and a whole bunch of sheep had their heads in the nearest feeder.  Zeke darted past them on the way to the door, he made sure to swerve as close as possible to the sheep on his way out.  This spooked the sheep who still had their heads in the feeder.  Two of the feeders are chained together and the sheep were all on the far side causing the feeders to be pulled over.  One young boy, about three months old, got stuck underneath the feeders with his head still stuck through into the hay!  I had to go back into the barn and put the feeders up so he could pull his head out and run away.  I then spent a couple of minutes lecturing the sheep about their bad eating habits and flighty behavior.  I was still ranting as I left the barn.  I forgot to shut the door.  Annmarie wanted to know if I really ranted at the sheep.  Of course I did!  This becomes a bigger issue when the weather gets nicer.  The sheep will go out on the back hillside and decide to start roll call at 0300.  We sleep with our bedroom windows open year round.  It is very noisy. 

The hamster corpse was starting to get to me.  Not so bad that I was willing to cut out a one foot by twenty foot section out of the dining room wall, but it was starting to smell really bad.  This morning I needed a rag to finish cleaning up my grout on the backsplash so I opened up the door of the deep sink utility cabinet and the smell was awful and I saw gerbil poop on the floor.  I found the dead gerbil.  I made Sarah come down and clean up the entire mess, wash all the rags and bleach everything.  I think she may need to use vinegar on everything now.  It is much better than it was but it has not gone away yet.  Here's to hoping the smell doesn't last much longer. 

I grouted the backsplash tile I installed last night and then painted the walls where the cooktop was going to be installed.  Once that was done I had the child come down and help me install the cabinet. We got it in place and then leveled it front to back and side to side.  It is perfectly level so our gas heat should be even.   Once that was in place we installed the downdraft fan.  I got it all screwed into the top and plugged in and made sure it did not hit the window board.  The temporary board is the same depth I want the finished board located.  I need a new blade on my table saw before I cut the finish board.  It smoked and burned my oak top when I cut it.  The cooktop was next and dropped right in.  It has two anchors on the side and it overlaps the vent fan.  We are very happy with how it turned out.  I took a second picture once the sun went down so you could see it lit. 


Works!  Just needs downdraft fan exhaust cut in floor and then we need to decide on front facing or drawers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Progress on stovetop

It fit finally!
I did it, I got it to fit.  It was not easy.  I tried the frame without any top and found out that my lower board for the exhaust fan was too high.  I could not lower the fan enough.  I had to cut a new board and lower it.  I tried to install the butcher block top and could not get it to fit. I had to take little cuts three separate times and finally just brought the jigsaw inside and cut it in place.  I even made sure I could shut off the gas!  The lowest point on the floor is the front right corner which would explain why that spot on our current stove is the hottest.  I adjusted the fan three times to get the height right. I even plugged it in and showed Annmarie how it went up and down.  I think this is going to look great!  My biggest issue was it was stuck in place.  Once Annmarie reminded me it needs to come out I encouraged it enough to get it out intact.  The backsplash needs to be finished and the back wall painted. 
Stove top and fan together.

Backsplash in place and drying.
I still need to finish the butcher block top.  I am just going to use an olive oil rub on the whole thing like I did with our last one.  When it looks a little dry I just break out some more olive oil.  It works great and looks good.  My only regret is I have to cut into the floor to install the exhaust vent.  I am not really looking forward to that portion of the job.  I got all the backsplash installed and a heater going on it so I can grout it in the morning.  I can get a coat of primer on and then some paint in the afternoon.  I don't want to disconnect our stove until I have that special putty I need to put on the gas line connection to the cooktop.  Once the cooktop is in place I will cut a hole in the floor for the exhaust pipe.  I need to get the rest of the exhaust pipe so I can vent it outside the house.  I will order the exhaust vent tomorrow.  My goal is to get this up and running before Sunday and pickup the stove on Tuesday morning.  I will stop by the lumber yard at the same time and pickup some 2x4.  I think I have enough tongue and groove at the house to do both sides.  I have plywood for that project also.  I will keep the purchases down until I start to run out of supplies.  I don't want to get too far ahead of the items being built. 

Tragedy has struck again, another chicken died.  Out of the blue and with no signs and symptoms of illness.  I will be calling the county extension agency tomorrow to see if they want to test the bird or if it just needs to be disposed.  Of course it had to be a hen and not one of the two roosters.  It was one of my buff orpington babies that just started laying. 

The gerbil is still making his presence known in the house even in death.  He fell down into one of the walls near the dining room and laundry room.  We are not sure which section of wall he is in nor how far down the wall his corpse is located.  He is stinking the place up.  We have a window open and the odor absorber open.  Luckily, I don't think he can stink forever.  It is just not worth the effort to cut open every wall until I find it.   That sounds like a nightmare.  Eventually, he will become a mummy and the smell will go away. 

Stovetop custom cabinet.

Wrong, do over time.
It had to happen, I can only put off working on a project for so long before it gets noticed.  I was sure I had actually managed to buy all the needed supplies for the stovetop cabinet but was unsure where to start.  Plus, I did have to catch up on a bunch of little things around the house.  Yesterday, I started back in on the kitchen project.  I had purchased some six foot lengths of black iron pipe so I could move over my pipe clamps to longer lengths.  This worked out very well.  Each pipe clamp assembly goes for about $35 so just getting a new chunk of pipe saved a lot of money.  I found several clamps I had forgotten about.  I picked them up at a yard sale last year for $5/each, a great find!  I assembled the entire frame and was trying to install the long pieces but was having issues with the wood splitting.  I had split the top out of one leg in two different directions and was trying to figure out how to repair it when I noticed my mistake.  I had shortened the very front piece to make a toe cutout so when you stand next to the cupboard your foot slides under the countertop, thus allowing your body to be closer and you don't have to lean.  I did not do a perfect mirror image and ended up with the cutout on opposite sides!  This worked out in the long run as I replaced the board that had been split twice.  Unfortunately, I had only purchased exactly as much lumber as I needed.  So the dogs and I had to go to town.  While at the lumber store I complained about the wood splitting and was sold a countersink to start the holes.  It was a life saver, and made all the difference. 

Corrected stand, butcher block top drying.
Once the stand was completed correctly I went out to assemble the butcher block top.  I am using oak flooring.  I just glued it at each joint and then clamped it all together.  Since I am cutting out the majority of the countertop, there is only 7 inches on each side and 2 inches front and back, I opted to glue the boards on their long sides.  I thought this would give me a wider look to the space.  I cut out the 3/4 inch plywood square that goes underneath it also.  Today, I will cut out the hole and drop the pieces into it as a test fit before I cut out the butcher block top.  I want it to work first. 
Workshop space!

I do all my woodwork on the old house porch.  If I would clean out the old house and wire in some electricity I might be able to use it!  Oh to have more time for the little projects.  Eventually, I will get this done. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cooktop planning.

Cooktop plans for oak countertop.  upside down.
I went shopping today for all the things I thought I would need for the cooktop cupboard.  I went to the flooring place and found 15 square feet of oak flooring to use as the countertop.  I went and picked up the actual gas cook top.  I then went to the hardware store and picked up a pipe clamp and three 5 foot sections of iron pipe so I can glue the oak flooring together and then once dry use a router to cut the center hole for the cooktop and downdraft fan.  Next was a trip to the lumber store for a piece of 3/4 inch plywood for the top of the cupboard.  I will attach the oak to this.  It will make a nice stable top.  Especially, since I am going to cut out most of the both of these.  At home I had to unload everything.  The cook top was manageable for one person.  The appliance store owner warned me that I would need help with the oven.  She said it weighs almost 200 pounds.  No way I can move that into the house by myself.  I may very well make the shell of the oven cupboards out of 2x4 material.  I think I need to for the weight requirements.  I am just going to use 1x4 for the cooktop. 

I dug through and found the instructions for the cook top and the downdraft fan and sat down and started to draw up a set of plans!  I never do this but combining multiple pieces together and getting them to fit and look good means I actually need a plan with some accurate measurements.  I kept going back and measuring each appliance to make sure I was getting things right.  A few problems arose. The floor is not level where the stove is currently sitting.  We knew this but there is a 1/4 inch difference from the front to the back.  Eventually, we want to tile the kitchen which will change the height of the countertop.  I am accounting for this by cutting the counter 1/4 inch short and then installing and shimming it up and screwing in a 1x4 along the length of the floor, this allows me to correct the height difference and remove this and adjust it at a later date.  Both items are equally important when building this cupboard.  I did get a pleasant surprise the custom cupboard will be shallower than our current oven so I think our doors on the left side will be more easily accessed.  I cannot really figure out where the drawers storage will go until the stove top and fan are installed.  It looks like I am going to have to cut down through the floor to vent the down draft fan.  There is no other good way to do it.  On the plus side I can cut a square hole which will make it easier.  I just need to find an outside vent.  I am going to look for a square one.  I have only found round ones in my internet searches to date.  Once I get this all installed we will not have an oven.  This will really put a squeeze on that project.  There will be some added pressure to get it done!  I will start taking measurements so I can purchase the wire, breaker and 220V outlet.  I have a line on the boards from a local custom cutter.  Using a 2x4 frame will make it easier.  I will just build a box out of them and then side it and line it.  I won't worry about it collapsing if I do that.  The bonus will be I can have the oven in a frame and fully functional!  That will give me some time to sheath it and make it all pretty.  I will also make it freestanding so when we redo the floor it will be self adjusting with the other two cupboards. 

cooktop cupboard, upside down.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fire, Fire and more Fire!

Right arm fire damage.

I just want it known that this farmer crap is not as easy as reading a book.  Nor after listening to many tall tales about how it used to be done.  I truly believe that the school of hard knocks is how most farmers learn.  What most farmers don't do is keep a blog!  An honest account of the actual things that occur on a farm.  I want it known that I have been very truthful over the years and try not to spare the reader the pretense that all is golden when working on a farm.  I try and paint a picture of the reality so that future readers can truly understand what our life entailed.  We print each years blog out as a hard cover book for our living room coffee table.  There will be no questions about what was done to the place by future generations.  They will be able to read up on all the improvements and changes. 

Today started out like any other day.  A little frost on the ground with the sun shining and a nice blue sky softened by the occasional white fluffy cloud.
Huge dent in tractor hood.

I went down to my mother-in-law's house to trim her front yard trees.  A couple of hours later and there were three nicely shaped trees.  Sarah texted me and Zeke and I went to town in the pickup for lunch with the family and friends.  Zeke had stayed in the back of the pickup the entire time I trimmed on the trees.  He never once tried to jump out.  His reward was getting to ride to town with me.  He loves riding in the back of the pickup.  While I was trimming the trees the alpacas did some fighting and running and tried to call the sheep over to them.  They make all sorts of weird noises.  I had no idea they were that vocal.  After lunch, Annmarie and I ran some errands and then Zeke and I came home.  I had told Annmarie I would clean up the horse feeder area, as the manure was getting deep.  So my trusty tractor and I cleaned out the square pen, I dumped it over the fence then got into the barn lot and cleaned out the feed stalls.  I ended up piling everything in one corner of the little horse lot.  The lot slants severely and I would like to level it.  So I am going to start stacking the manure and dirt to make a level area.  There was still daylight to burn so I decided to start burning weeds in the fence line.  I had been wanting to do it for the last month but I had been working on the kitchen.  I had a new plan of attack.  Instead of wrestling the 30 gallon tank into the back of the pickup I would use the tractor, it seemed reasonable.  I put the tank into the bucket upright and used a long chain to go around it three time and once through the top so it couldn't fall forward.  I turned the tank on and light the weed burner on the first try.  I was in business.  I burned the fence line out behind the grain bins.  It gets hot but as long as I wear a long sleeve shirt its not too bad.  The weeds are burning hot and fast and as soon as the fire hits the stubble it stops and self extinguishes.  It was perfect and there was a slight breeze away from me so I didn't even have to breathe any smoke.  I did that whole fence line and started my way on the next section of fencing.

 About half way down the fence was some old spiked wheel thing that you drag behind the large tractor to break up dirt clods.  Donna and I had just talked about selling the old tractor and big equipment today so I decided that the weeds needed to be burned so I could take a picture.  I waded into the piece of equipment and started a couple of small fires to my left then one to my right and then turned back to my left to start a couple of more.  Did I say the wind was coming from my right side?  It started to get hot with all that fire around me so I stepped away from the flames but my right arm kept getting hotter and hotter.  It took me about ten seconds to realize I was on fire!  I could not see any flames as it was just above my elbow on the back of my arm.  I tried to get my outer shirt off but my cuffs were too tight and my leather gloves would not come off.  I jumped around and
managed to get my glove and outer shirt off.  Phew, saved or so I thought, my arm was still on fire!  The inside shirt was on fire.  I had to just reach over and smash the flames out.  Once I was sure no other part of my body was on fire I went back to burning. It hurt, but I could tell it was only a second degree burn and the skin had just been burnt off.  There was some burnt hair but no blisters as the skin was all burnt off.  There was work to be done!  Annmarie came out about five minutes later asking me to be done with the burning.  I really wanted to get down the driveway and had just gotten to the next corner of the fence.  After a short discussion  we went over and fed the alpacas and got to touch two different ones.  I went back to complete some more burning.  I was going to have to go over a large hill so I lifted the bucket with my propane tank high into the air.  The damn thing leaped out of the bucket backwards and smashed down onto the hood of my tractor!  It was awful.  I instantly killed the tractor engine assuming the radiator had just gotten smashed in.  I lifted the tractor hood and there was no engine contact just a huge dent.  I chained that bad boy back to the bucket with an extra loop under the bucket securing the tank from the bottom so it could not fall off in any direction.  I sure wish I had thought of that sooner. I fired that tractor back up and proceeded to continue burning!  Later, a hammer will fix that dent.  I made it all the way to the end of the driveway before it started to get dark.  I have the last ten feet of fence and the cattle guard to burn and I will be done.  I then went and fed all the rest of the animals and gave the horses some fresh straw in their stalls.  The chickens are really starting to lay eggs so spring time must be near. 
The worse part of this day was I considered downplaying the dent in the tractor hood but Annmarie witnessed it! 

I do have a few takeaways from this day.  Natural fibers are my friend!  NO more synthetic crap, I will only be wearing cotton and wool to work around the farm.  Wool would not have burned like that.  Always attach everything inside the tractor bucket from all directions.  The alpaca are tamer than we expected them to be.  On a plus side, I destroyed no fence today and my arm will be healed by the end of the week.  I will say that Annmarie did have to run into the bathroom and ask if there was anything wrong while I was showering.  I debrided the burn with a washcloth and some soap until I had all the burned hair and skin removed.  It did not feel good, after a few minutes it just got numb from too much stimulation, or else I just got numb to the pain.  I let a few good choice words cleaning up.  All is well and hopefully I can finish the burning this week and be done till early winter. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Alpaca are here!

Alpaca in trailer.
Well we made the plunge and purchased some alpaca.  I found a great deal on Craigslist.  I borrowed an animal trailer from a coworker and drove up to John Day this morning.  I took Zeke with me and he thought he had died and gone to heaven getting to spend three hours each way riding in the back with the wind in his face.  We even stopped a couple of times each direction so he could run around by the river.  The first time we stopped he took off and I waited 30 seconds before I started calling him.  It took him over a minute to come back at a dead run.   He must have gotten pretty far away.  I kept him in sight after that.  The drive was curvy and hilly but very nice.  I got lost in Canyon City and had to call for directions.  It was up some curvy road and off the beaten path.  I never could have gotten there with the first set of instructions.  We loaded the first six animals by just pushing them into the trailer.  We got them piled up by the opening and no one would go inside.  The owner put a bridle on one and we drug it up into the trailer and tied it to the far end.  After that we managed to push the other five inside.  I then swung the trailer divider over and just kept pushing to try and get it shut.  They did not want to go.  Plus, they started spitting at each other!  It is not really spit, it is regurgitated feed hucked directly up from the stomach.  It smells nasty.  We had to halter one of the other two and then physically lift the last one into the trailer.  I had to reach through and remove the halter on the first one and it was covered in nasty spit.  We drove 100 yards down the road and I stopped to take a picture of the alpaca.  I got a face full of nastiness!  I continued to stink the entire drive home.  The alpaca are easy to transport, as soon as the trailer starts moving they just sit down.  We got home and I drove into the orchard.  The cows were there so Zeke got to work and chased them out.  I opened the trailer and let the alpaca out.  They are fairly tame.  I touched everyone and they just ran out and formed a group.  Two hours later and they are still in the same place!  Just standing around trying to figure out this land of green.  We fed some hay but they did not come up to the feeder.  The plan now is just to let them get acclimated.  Their wool is only about 4 inches long now.  We plan on shearing them sometime in late May.  I have that much time to do some more research.  We also have to cut their hooves and grind their front teeth and fighting teeth down.  This will all be done on the day we shear.  It is going to be a long day!  The price was amazing as the owner was looking to downsize.  8 males only cost us $200. 
In our pasture and not really sure.

Fresh off the boat.

Kitchen new direction

New stove in dining room
Yesterday, was the day of completions. The heating guys came out and finished installing our new freestanding stove in the dining room.  It is amazing!  It actually gives off heat and heats up the whole room in minutes.  We are hoping this means our propane bill will decrease.  The wind needs to howl so we can see if this one blows out and we need some bitter below zero F temps to see if that keeps the stove from lighting. 
New in house filter.

The plumber came that afternoon.  He installed a inline filter for all the water that comes into our house.  He ran the mainline up into our laundry room and then back down to the distribution manifold.  No more rocks and glue ribbons gumming up all our valves inside.  Now I can replace both outside water hydrants and not worry about ruining anything inside the house.  I am not sure that is such a good thing.  My last excuse to delay digging gone. 

We have solved our kitchen appliance problem.  So instead of only being the proud owners of a new downdraft fan, we are the proud owners of a downdraft fan, propane cook top and freestanding oven! LOL.  I will now be constructing four custom cupboards, a hardwood counter and wiring the back kitchen wall with 220V for the new electric oven.  This will be a great finish to the kitchen project.  Looking forward to the finished look. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's all fun and games till you have to work on the exhaust fan.


Lead ewe with her twins.  Best color of the year.
I ran out of excuses to not work on the kitchen down draft fan.  Annmarie had suspected I was putting it off but I kept coming up with something else that needed to be done.  I ran out of "other things" to do, so today was day one of the vent fan fiasco.  Now, one might think I was sarcastic by this comment but you need to read more of the blog to understand what my true normal is usually like.  I unpacked the fan and found the fan body bent and the decorative top strip bent.  The fan body was not a big deal, I bent it back into place.  The chrome strip that goes on top of the raised fan had a peg bent and it needed to be replaced or it would not stay in place.  I called the Whirlpool help line.  I was told that the fan I had purchased was made in 2012 and was outside the manufacturer warranty.  I then led with the information that I had just purchased the fan from Fred's appliance last month.  They then countered with wanting to know if I had contacted Fred's to get the part.  I said no, I called them. We then found the part I needed and the helpful person, on the phone, said he would list the part in my file but they needed proof of purchase with a recent date before the part could be sent out.  I of course had thrown that away.  I had to call Fred's and get someone to email me the receipt so I could in turn email it to Whirlpool who may have it on file in two days.  I just need to check back then and if everything is in order they will send me the part.  This only took 1.5 hours. 
fan insert raised, backwards!

After swapping blower motor, lift assembly does not move. 
I then put the fan together and turned the blower motor so it vented to the rear.  I was ready to rock as soon as I had some power.  I dug around in the old house and found a metal conduit ring, now if I only had some wire and a plug.  I wanted a flush plug so I went to the local hardware store and found a 90 degree extension cord and cut off the female end.  I wired the fan and figured out how to mount the legs and what was needed to mount it to the wall.  I scooted it in place and it fit!  A whole 1/4 inch to spare.  I plugged it in and it worked!  The fan extended (see picture to the right) and I was able to adjust the speed of the blower.  All was good with the world, or so I thought.

 I looked at both sides of the fan when extended and noticed that the side closest to the stove was just a piece of smooth stainless steel, but the other side was a couple of metal screens and the place where the air was actually getting sucked down.  This is not good, it is wrong.  Having done a very unguylike thing, I had read the instruction manual several times. I didn't want to screw it up.  There was a way to swap the blower motor to the other side!  I was saved.  I had to remove the blower motor and swap the wiring internally and take off the covers.  But, alas it was not that simple.  There is a lifting mechanism and it cannot be moved.  I continued to swap over all the pieces so I can get the fan opening on the right side near the stove.  Well this makes my fan 4 inches too wide for my opening.  This means I will have to cut into the cabinet to get it to fit and cut out through cabinet wall to vent it outside.  This is still doable, but now I have to build a wooden top with the fan in the center.  Again, this is possible but it is starting to get more complicated.  This puts the raise and lower button next to the window.  You need to reach over 30 inches to raise and lower the fan.  The fan speed switch is a diagonal switch that you physically move up and down.  It would be at the far end of the fan near the window.  You would have to feel it while stretching out to adjust the fan speed. 

So I did some brainstorming, We could go buy a stovetop only and I could build a custom cabinet next to the sink that would hold the fan and stovetop.  This is what this fan is really designed to accommodate.  I had to do some more research.  We would then not have an oven.  So the heating guys are coming tomorrow to install our new downstairs propane freestanding heater in the dining room/living room.  I could ask for a quote to install propane in the kitchen where the sideboard is now.  We could move the stove/oven there and just not fry anything and just use the oven.  Eventually, I could build a custom cabinet and put in a single or double oven in that wall.  I realize that this is not spending less money to solve the problem but it is a solution and one which I came up all on my own.  I will have to consult the boss tonight when she gets home, but truly I am not sure how we are going to tackle this problem. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Counters done.

Spice cabinet organized.
I am moving on to the next project.  The kitchen countertops are 100% done.  I installed the outlet covers yesterday and managed to not electrocute myself again.  I touched a hot wire two days ago inserting spacers to get the outlet the correct distance from the box.  It hurt, a lot!  I even cleaned up the spice area, took everything down and washed the cupboard.  I threw out the duplicates and nearly empty spice jars and installed some plastic shelves in an attempt to make everything more visible.  It looks a lot better and I was surprised at how many spices had spilled inside the cupboard.  There was some green colored goo on two shelves.  I have no idea where it originated.  I had to scrape it off with a knife.
We cleaned everything as we put it back on the shelves.  The only thing left is the downdraft fan custom cabinet and install.  Annmarie says I am stalling because it is going to be difficult. My reason is I am trying to catch up on all the stuff I had put off while doing the countertops and backsplash.  I just finished our annual financial summary for the farm.  We need that to do our taxes.  I just need to print out the mileage for the pickup and my part of the taxes will be complete.  Annmarie does the hard part and I don't want to be the holdup.  In reality I don't mind the cabinet portion of the downdraft fan, I just don't want to cut the hole through our outside wall.  I cannot be off even a little bit or bad things are going to happen.   I really do need to do these other things and am only procrastinating a little.  It looks like next week it is going to happen. 

Left kitchen countertop

Right kitchen countertop.

2014 annual summary

2014 Annual Farm Summary.

 We sold $2260 worth of sheep (around 65 animals) and $762 worth of eggs.   Our egg income was way up due to more pullets and buying feed in large quantities when I found it on sale.  

I have several categories so I will give a brief overview of each one and then my rounded expenses.  I am not going to add them all up so the numbers may not add up to my real total but it will be close enough for record keeping purposes.  There is no other neat way to do this.  It worked last year so I am going to stick with it.  I will add a little more description to the categories in hopes that it will make my life easier next year when I go to add the totals up and figure out which category they go in. 
ANIMALS: This covers the baby chickens, medicine for the sheep and chickens, bedding, straw, salt and supplements.  $260
FEED:  This covers all the chicken food, sheep grain and hay. We purchased 2.5 ton of hay last winter for $500 and bought 1 ton this summer(hay $605)(animals $990, chickens $390). $1380
GENERAL:  This covers the fencing supplies, gloves, safety gear, nails, clips, hardware for gates, locks for gates, hinges (labor $ 1475). $4082
EQUIPMENT:  This covers pickup repair and upkeep, trailer upkeep, and a new sheep sorting chute system($2791)  $3532
VET:  This covers Zeke only and his tick medicine.  $118
TRACTOR/SPRAYER:  This covers the tractor maintenance and fuel, quick hitch for tractor, mule fuel and sprayer repair and upkeep and herbicide (tractor fuel  60 gallons $237, spray $0).  $910
BUSINESS EXPENSE:  This is for a license renewal, farm insurance we are required to keep now due to number of animals and buildings.  $1901
BARN IMPROVEMENTS:  This is for repairing the barn.  We finished the tin roofing, added the second cupola, I changed the orientation of the milking addition door and started working on the overhead walkway inside in the animal area.  I added a window to one of the hay rooms.  It is a frosted bathroom window, it lets in lots of light but no focused light so fire is not a problem in the hay areas. (labor cost of $1100)  Total  $2014
Expense total:  $14,197 for the entire year.

GRAND TOTAL:  A loss of $11,175

That is a pretty accurate number as I was very good about keeping receipts again this  year for everything.  I may be off a couple of hundred dollars for lost receipts but overall I keep a good filing system and try to get my receipts corralled before they get lost. Our major expenses are starting to dwindle.  I do need to purchase a couple units of lumber this year and we need to buy posts and gates for the cow sorting chute system but every year we are getting closer to self sustaining.  2014 was the most money we have made off the farm since we moved.  In five years, I see our expenses dropping to around $4000/yr and our income jumping to around $8000/yr.  Who knows, maybe the price of eggs will be so high we put in another 125 pullets in the old chicken coop, some solar power to open and close a chicken door and collect  7-10 dozen eggs/day for sale.  Time will tell.  The old chicken coop would only require a little work and it is almost empty, just a little lumber stored and a little junk to sort.   There are always options. 

We had to cull one ram due to his rubberband castration not working. Now everyone gets TWO rubberbands to prevent this complication.  A coworker came and took him home to the freezer.  We did not eat any last year for personal consumption.  Depending on how this year goes we may still have some in the freezer this fall.    We are now feeding six cows and will be getting three more babies in April.  At that time, we will turn the bull in with our two yearling heifers.  We would like to get to 10 heifers.  The cows eat more than I am calculating so we will have to buy hay to get through the winter. We butchered three cows, ate two for family and sold one for $2.50/lb hanging weight.  Their carcass weights were 330#, 342# and 335#.  I got the barn roof done!  This was a huge undertaking and I am glad it is over.  I have one leak on the backside I will crawl up on the roof and investigate after spring and before it is 100 degrees outside. 

 I want to do some more work on the platform in the barn and pull out four of the jugs.  That will leave us with two jugs that I will raise the sides another two feet so no matter how wild the mother there will be no jumping out!  This will let me put feeders on the wall where the jugs used to be.  This will be needed as we want to jump the sheep up to at least 50 ewes. 
 Fencing has again become a priority.  It never changes. I want to subdivide the lower pasture next to the back creek.  I want to replant that 2-3 acre field in Sainfoin.  I would like to see how it will grow and it will only cost about $200 for seed.  I need to run a fence up the back hillside to add more grazing ground and I would like to divide the back hillside at the apple tree up the hill also.  This would allow me to run the bull and cows in the lower pasture and still have to two fences between him and any young heifers.  He is a pain in the butt when it comes to finding ways to get to the heifers! This year we want to redo the cow sorting chute system, narrowing the chute and adding two more sorting areas with 8 more gates.  It will be a lot nicer.  We also want to put a fence across the front hillside by the cars so the cows won't come down the hillside to the creek.  This will also let us tear out the front chain link fence.   I will have to do some work on the irrigation pump and retracting sprinkler. Those are the big projects for 2015.

Not a pullet.

Chicken coop
Yes, chickens really are dirty.  They are the dustiest creatures known to man.  My perch needs to be about two inches farther out from the wall to prevent the poop paintings.  Unfortunately, I don't have the room for that as I would have to move every perch two inches forward.  I am thinking about adding another high perch directly over the lowest perch.  Almost no one uses the low perch and with a second high perch I think its use would vanish.  The chickens want to be the tallest person in the room. 

I seem to have stopped whatever virus/disease was present in my coop with some timely vector elimination practices.  Not a sick chicken to be had in the last week.  I am going to have to cull another rooster.  My babies from this fall should start laying in March and I just noticed this week that my "pullets" are not all girls!  One of them is a boy, he is starting to grow a larger comb and develop darker neck feathers and some longer tail feathers.  We are going to let him live and kill off the old rooster.  The rooster will help integrate the flock and having a new rooster will make the old guard more prone to integrate.  They won't be so insular, at least that is the theory I am going to postulate.  Time will tell if I was right.  The egg yolks are starting to get a little more orange in color.  The chickens are starting to roam about more during the day. 

Today I used a metal rake to finish getting the mud in the barn lot out of the front creek and spread out more pasture grass seeds along both banks of the creek.  I am hoping the grass will grow and help stabilize the bank.  I would love to plant the bottoms in new grass seed but I am going to wait until after March.  I don't want a freeze killing my new plants.  A little area like the creek bank is easily replanted.  I have 300# of chicken food left out in the coop.  Just enough to get through the winter.  I need to start watching out for the sales again.  I think I will buy it in 1000# increments.  It certainly makes it easier and really cuts down my feed costs. 

We had another set of twin lambs on Friday.  On Sunday, I decided that the momma needed a companion.   They just do better with a companion.  I decided that our old lead ewe #1 is pretty pregnant and the friendliest of the bunch so she should be easy to wrangle into the baby area.  Yes she is friendly, but she is also a Dorper so she is our largest sheep.  She did not want to go in the baby area despite the food quantity being endless.  I ended up having to catch her and straddle her body and neck and drag her forward with my legs and arms while straddling her.  Not the most gracious movement.  We were almost to the pen gate when she decided to bolt for the open door out into the barn lot.  I had to catch her by the neck at the last minute, I finally got the pen gate open and the dog stopping her from rejoining the main herd caused her to go into the pen.  The worst part was it had been raining all day long and her wool was saturated with water.  My jeans were soaking wet!  They have been doing fine and today I noticed her udder filling up with milk so hopefully she will have her babies in the next few days, or she is feeding the other ewe's babies.