Friday, March 27, 2015

Tack room done

Tack room lazy susan.
Today was a recycle day.  A friend is doing some demolishing on his current contractor job.  I snagged a few intact formica countertops, a formica shelf with supports, some oak trim and some fluorescent lights.  The lights are for the old house and will be installed later.  The countertops are for the tack room cupboards.  We laid a couple of 2x4 across the three cabinets and attached them all together.  Two tops were custom cut for both cupboards and we installed a new shelf on the wall.  The tack room is officially complete.  I may put a few more small hooks on the wall but nothing fancy. 

Tack room long cupboards.
We spent a half an hour picking up all the wood on the hillside by the new lawn ornaments.  I wanted to get it all cleaned up before we install the new fence.  I will have to bring the tractor over to drag the large limbs that got cut off seven years ago.  I want to get it all on the new burn pile in the orchard and then torch it all. 

Lazy susan with formica top.

The oven works!  I wired it up and it works!  I love it when things work on the first try.  We let it run for about 1.5 hours to burn off the new smell.  Now it just needs to bake me some brownies!  Sarah tells me that my chicken food is going to go on sale very soon.  I am trying to decide whether to buy 1000# or 2000# of chicken food (20 or 40 bags).  Whatever I buy I will purchase more mouse traps and some poison bars to go in the coop food storage area.  We are also getting more cats, four more should do it.  We need better predator control.  I do not want any mice in the house. 
Three cabinets connected with formica top and new formica shelf.

Stove works!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kitchen progress.

Cabinet in place and oven in its home!

It's hard to believe we spent eight hours today working on getting the oven in place.  All we had to do was shove it in place and run a little wire.  Well, it was not quite that easy.  I made Phil crawl under the house and tried to drill a hole through the floor and almost caught the house on fire.  There was so much smoke I had to throw a cup of water into the wall just to appease my sense of safety.  Luckily, there was another hole already present so we used it.  Once the wire was all run I went to wire the panel and realized I forgot to go get a 220V 20A breaker.  I had to make trip to town for the breaker while Phil cleaned up the orchard and created another burn pile.  Fire is the greatest cleanup tool we have.  Once back we finished the wiring in short order and attempted to get the cabinet in place.  I did say that I measured everything three times before I cut it?  We had to push and push and wiggle and apply a few hundred pounds of effort to get the cabinet in an inch at a time.  Once in place we had to shim it level.  We only knocked off a little plaster off the wall on one side.  I was running out of time as I had an appointment this afternoon so we slid the stove in after removing the door and various pieces.  The oven fit perfectly, as if I had built the cabinet just for it!  It was perfect and I was grateful. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pump power is back!

Oven cabinet is ready to set up and then trim face.  Power needs to be ran first.

Bunch grass is spray resistant so plowing was implemented.
It was a day for the kitchen cabinet.  I had a paid helper come over so we could finish the cabinet.  I needed some last minute design input from Annmarie before she went to the Tricities.  We decided to slide the side shelving back 6 inches so it is only 18 inches deep, and even on both sides.  I was thinking about making all three shelves a different depth and all three with different size doors, that idea was vetoed, and both sides are identical.  This plan change meant we had to rip down a bunch of plywood to 18 inch widths.  The outside weather was miserable,
cold raining and windy.  The perfect day to be outside trying to cut finish wood!

 We started in first thing and I was already distracted from calling the power company, like I had promised to do.  Annmarie texted me around 0930 and I called immediately.  I gave them my address and told them the problem.  They were very polite and helpful on the phone.  A service rep came out to the house three hours later.  I went out and told him where the problem was and how to get in to the lower pasture.  He went down and fixed the wire!  One hour later there was power at the pump.  We had to run to the hardware store for screws so we stopped to check out the repair.  I fired up the irrigation pump and it the motor ran, the pump shaft turned but no water came out.  I didn't bother to bring anything to prime the pump.  Now we just need to dig out the mud, change two valves on the line and lay out all the sprinkler pipe!  I am super stoked about irrigating this year.  I will call the power company and get the power bill changed over to our name next week.  Once the pump is up and going then we can get someone to come out and repair the retractable sprinkler. Its looking up! 

Future green house.
We spent ten hours today getting the cabinet all put together.  It was not easy.  It kept wanting to be off by 1/8 of an inch.  It had to be poked, prodded, clamped, pushed, pulled, shimmed and sworn at to get it all together.  I had to keep measuring diagonals to ensure we were not tweaking it.  I will be the first to admit that I am not a cabinet maker.  I much prefer building things for the shop and barn.  Way easier and way faster.  I only had one board in the wrong place by 3/4 inch and had to move it, not bad for ten hours of work.  We marked the spot for the power box to be installed.  Tomorrow we run power and then slide the cabinet between the walls to keep it stable.  Once there I will finish the face and then sand and stain it in place. After it is all dry we will slide it the six inches back against the wall. 

Yesterday, we drove to Hermiston and picked up eight more windows for the green house.  I am getting stoked about having one.  I have enough windows for all three sides.  I want to buy the greenhouse plastic sheets for the upper roof.  It will be on a slant and I am afraid the hail will break the old glass windows.  I remember as a kid we had a hothouse made of old windows and the hail broke every window.  I just need to work up a size and better plan.  I know I want a heat sink to run the whole back of the green house four feet deep and the entire height of the back wall.  I will fill it with old tires and rocks and paint the back wall black.  It can absorb heat/energy during the day and give it off all night. I also want to dig it down at least two feet maybe three feet into the ground for the same reason.  My heat sink will go all the way to the floor.  I want the wood to be all cedar so it can withstand the moisture.  I want spring operated vents but am considering running one power line to it from the chicken coop and installing a DC converter and running DC vent fans and vent louver motors.  I could run automatic watering valves also!  Still thinking about this version. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oven cabinet happening.

Cutting frame to split plywood evenly long wise.
It is really happening!  I know there were some doubters out there wondering if I could build cabinets, myself included, but the wife has says I am not allowed to buy any brownies.  NO BAKED goods are allowed in the home until I get the oven up and going then she says she will cook it for me.  Another incentive to get the oven up and going.  A friend, Robert,  came over yesterday and we started in on the cabinets.  The funny part was it took half the time to just set up for the cabinets.  First, we had to empty the dining room of all tools and left over tiles from the counter/backsplash job.  It took us two hours just to move all the tools out, empty the sideboard and move the sideboard out of its old home.  We had baking pans laying all over the kitchen from the sideboard.  I had the dining room stacked with all the knickknacks from the kitchen. 
Next on the building schedule was a cutting frame.  I needed to be able to tear a 3/4 inch Oak plywood sheet in half lengthwise and have it be perfectly straight.  Luckily, I had purchased a passel of 2x4 to construct a new irrigation pump support.  We drug those into the yard and started constructing our cutting frame.  The full sheet of plywood lays down lengthwise and the bottom board holds it level.  Then we clamp a 2x4 1.5 inches below where the cut should be and I installed a brand new 60 tooth blade in my Skilsaw and run it along the 2x4.  A perfect straight smooth cut was done.  We did clamp the upper portion of the plywood to the frame before I did the horizontal cut so it would not drop down and pinch the blade.  This worked great, we took them to the side and stacked them on my arbor.  I put a tape measure to the first one and started to swear, it was 24.5 inches wide.  I instantly panicked thinking I had shorted the other side and just ruined a $90 board.  Nope, the plywood is 48.5 inches wide.  We trimmed one of the boards every time.  We cut five sheets in half and then got ready to assemble the center, oven holding cabinet.

Dining room, the table is now clear. 

Oven shelves in progress.
I cut some more 1x3 supports for the shelves and installed the first one when I remembered I needed to cut out a toe spot at the bottom of the cabinets. I did a true mirror image for the other side.  This part I remembered without a mistake.  Rob and I then drug one side inside the house and attempted to stand it up.  Nope, I forgot to trim it down to 79 inches it was still 96.5 inches tall.  We went back outside and cut it the right length and then unscrewed the support and reinstalled it on the new and correct side.  It was dinner time, so we fed Robert, leg of lamb with cous cous and fried brussel sprouts.  Some fresh bread from Safeway finished it off.  We had to eat in the living room because the dining room was crowded.  After dinner Sarah and Robert held the sides while I assembled the shelves.  The plan was to make three separate cabinets not attach them to the wall and not put backs on them.  Annmarie pointed out that the cabinet is very wobbly.  After much consideration and discussion it was decided I would make one cabinet and once I got in all the outside walls the cabinet would be pinned between the walls.  They would hold it up.  I will put a solid sheet of plywood across the top and I will but a solid kickboard across the bottom tying it all together.  I was going to put doors across the top that swung up but Annmarie thought they would be too tall for her to put back down.  So, the plan is for me to build the cabinets, face them off, stain them and install the oven.  Once they are all in place I am going to see about purchasing premade doors.  This would save a ton of time and allow me to finish the project in a timely fashion. 

I spent today cleaning up the dining room table and breeze porch.  We can now sit down at the dining room table!  Its amazing!  My plan is to work the sanding of the dining room table in so when I go to stain the cabinets I can stain the table at the same time.  I figure if I am going to stink up the house I might as well get all the stink going at once.  Things are starting to come together.  I want to get the cabinet/oven project done so I can get outside and start building fence and working on the irrigation pump. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fancy Fencing.

There is no doubt that I will be fencing this year.  I build fence every year!  In about five more years I should have most of the new fence installed and the old stuff all fixed.  This is a pretty short time frame, but I am hopeful it won't take any longer.  Annmarie and I have been discussing our new fence we want to install out by the parked cars.  This will allow us to tear out the front chain link fence and create a larger front yard.  Not that we need more lawn to mow, but it will let me finish the rock wall and keep the cows out of our front spring.  I want to plant some grapes along the water and everyone loves to eat grape leaves.  It will also make herding the cows easier as they cannot go down and hide near the creek.  This will give them a fence to follow directly into the square pen.  Should be a lot easier to get them into the pen, in theory. 

Annmarie really wants an all metal twisted and spiked fancy fence.  I cannot weld and we are unwilling to fork out the cash for a custom fence right now.  This is one more reason for me to take the welding class at BMCC.  She also said I could not build my new century sign holder out of old gears until I learn to weld.  I also want to make a small used fencing post holding area so the posts can be stored upright out of used metal scraps.  None of that can happen until I learn to weld.  It is starting to move up high on the priority list.  I will have to enlist the aid of my fellow coworkers so I can get those two evenings a week off for an entire school year. 

Since that option was not really possible we looked at several others.  Looked at is a loose term, we did look at pictures on the internet and a couple I doodled onto a notepad.  There was more give and take in the process about how hard it would be to build or the cost.  Annmarie wanted a fence with pickets sandwiched between 1x4.  This would mean I would need to install six inch posts and carve out the slot for the fence rails to slide into.  It is doable but a lot of work.  We ended up on choosing to continue our bridge theme.  Create fence that looks like our railing.  Now this was the original plan when we installed the bridge three years ago.  So we didn't really choose something new we just came back to an old idea.  Funny how those things happen.  I want to get started on this soon, but we need a kitchen oven before it can happen.  I am starting to miss the oven and Annmarie missed it on day one!  Today is the day for constructing my new kitchen oven cupboards. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nutella or peanut butter?

The age old question about which is better Nutella or peanut butter?  Is still not answered. I put four mouse traps in the chicken coop feed area, two with Nutella and two with peanut butter. Two traps were sprung and two mice died valiantly for this scientific study, one was Nutella and one was peanut butter!  No scientific conclusion could be drawn and I am hoping my subject pool has been eliminated!  This may have to become an ongoing study. [nutella-1; peanut butter-1]

The alpaca are getting very used to us. I fed yesterday then just stood next to the feeder in the middle talking to myself. Whenever I try and tame down an animal I always talk a lot. It helps. They learn to recognize your voice and realize good things come from that fabulous person. Everyone crowded around me to eat some hay. I have no idea why they want the hay there is plenty of pasture. There is one white alpaca that is worse for the wear. He has two bloody ears and is covered in grass vomit/spit. I would feel sorry for him but he initiates most of the fighting. 

We are almost out of hay.  I fed the last large bale to the cows two days ago. When the cows get that all cleaned up I will move them down to the schoolhouse pasture. We need another two months before we turn the heifers loose with the bull and main cow herd. They are back on heat, the bull has pushed my metal poles over almost 18 inches.  I had to go straighten them yesterday.  I will try and get two wooden posts in this weekend. 

My big plan for the week is to get the oven custom cabinet built and the oven wired in and operational!  That will make me popular around the house again. I wanted to bake some potatoes yesterday and had to zap them in the microwave, it is not the same. 

I had another hen die!  I have no clue as to why this is happening. I am going to have to get baby chicks. I am thinking another dozen. I will swing by the farm supply store tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

More pump surprises.

Peanut butter or Nutella?

I drove to Hermiston today to figure out how to fix the control panel.  There are no stores locally that carry these kinds of parts.  I took pictures of the control panel yesterday.  I went to the first irrigation pump store and stuck out.  No electrical parts are sold.  So instead I bought a 3 inch 90 degree elbow and three 3 inch end plugs.  They were on the list.  I was sent across the street to another store that does electric work on panels.  At that store I gave my story again and showed my pictures of the circa 1956 control panel.  He finally said I needed more help and gave me the name of a business in Umatilla that makes pump control panels, Selectric.  I had Google maps take me there and there was a warehouse but no sign for Selectric.  I drove around and could not find it so I just went up and walked in.  There was no one at the desk, just a bell.  I rang the bell and two guys came out.  I started my spiel for the third time and this time answers started flowing.  Of course the first thing they wanted to do was sell me a new panel.  I don't want this, as I will have to jump through tons of paperwork and permits.  They were willing to sell me all the internal parts for a brand new control panel in an old box.  I would have purchased everything immediately, but I failed to take a picture of the motor.  I needed the motor statistics so I could get the right parts.  They gave me their phone number on a sticky and told me to just call in the specifications and they would work a quote up for me.  This was great news.  They kept asking about whether the motor was a three phase.  I thought it was but when I took voltage measurements I had 0 V, 110 V and 208 V on the three wires coming in.  This continued to bug me on the way home.  I should have more voltage. 
Irrigation motor stats.

Irrigation pump stats
I went out to the pump for pictures and a transcription opportunity.  The motor was three phase.  Two years ago I got the pump to work, and it just kept bugging me that I could not even get a buzz out of it this time.  A buzz would have made me happy.  I started looking harder, and then I looked up, way up into the sky!  One wire of the three had been shot in half.  I need to get an electrician and boom truck out to the farm to get the line repaired.  Hopefully, they can repair it and not make me replace the whole thing. Once the overhead line is repaired I will go back to worrying about the control panel. 

I picked up the rest of the lumber for the kitchen cabinets today.  Sarah had to help me unload 3/4 inch oak full size 4x8 feet sheets of plywood.  She was not impressed and still sore from her drill weekend.  There was much cajoling on my part.  It was still easier with her than doing it by myself. 

I have a mouse out in the chicken coop.  It chewed into two of my bags.  Instead of trapping a cat in the back for a week I am going to try some mouse traps.  The question is will they like peanut butter of nutella better?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Irrigation pump woes.

My current project.

Pump control panel issues.
Rain let it rain!  We need some moisture, so our irrigation project has moved up the priority list.  I went out today to get the pump working.  The cover is ancient and rusted but I knew the bugs where getting inside the panel.  I had no idea how many different types of insects, flying and crawling kinds were living inside.  I did wonder if there was any live power inside.  I couldn't see anything so I broke off a dead thistle stem and used it to clean out the panel.  I spent over 30 minutes just scraping hornets nests, spider webs and mud wasp nests out.  I did use an electrical tester and found no power.  Being a wise grasshopper I did not believe it.  I kept my leather gloves on and used a wooden handle wire brush.  When the wire brush started sparking I was not surprised.  The power was right at its entry point.  There is a large mechanical breaker hidden in the back of the upper fuse assembly that is operated by the outside handle.  There is a small switch on the right outside of the box that is broken and will not turn.  It is the run switch and will need to be replaced.  The bottom solenoid assembly needs to be replaced also.  I plugged the holes and bent the upper panel to prevent the bugs from crawling past. I had to put in a new wire clamp pass through on the bottom of the panel.
Clean control panel.

Painted and labeled box.
 I opened up the pressure switch near the pump and had to dig out more bugs so the contacts would be able to close. I could not get the pump to work.  I could not get the lower solenoid to operate at all.  The dirt needs to be dug out from the channel as an added bonus.  I used a wire brush on the outside of the entire panel and painted it with some dove gray vehicle primer.  It was very windy but I was quite surprised at how good the spray nozzle on the can worked.  It gave a narrow wide spray of paint.  As someone who painted an entire car with can paint I can attest to how much better the modern nozzles are twenty years later. 

I counted irrigation pipe hand lines.  I think we have enough.  I just need a 90 degree connector and three 3 inch plugs. 

My little sister, Chris,  came out to visit.  She wanted to pet an alpaca.  I had caught one the other day for Lori, my other sister, and she had spread the word about how soft they were.  I fed early so we could touch them.  I snagged the little black one and held on by just grabbing its hair on the back.  Chris got to pet it and then she wanted to pet a white colored one.  So I wandered around and leaped toward a brown one.  I grabbed its back hair near the neck and it started to fight me more than the first one. So I decided that my manly 165 pounds would subdue this creature.  I threw my leg over its back and straddled this small weak creature.  My toes were barely touching the ground then it started running and bucking! I just held on.  I made it about 12 feet before getting thrown off.  I landed on my hands and toes.  Chris was laughing after she asked me if I was okay.  She had her back to me and turned around in time to see me riding said mild mannered creature and subsequently getting bucked off.  Note to self, do not straddle alpacas. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More brain power needed

Metal scrapyard haul!
I went to the scrapyard yesterday.  I needed to pick up my dad's wheelchair before it got altered.  While there I picked up a trailer I can use with the tractor.  They pointed out all the T-posts that had been saved over the winter.  I had to have those!  I dug through and collected 135 T posts about half need to be straightened.  The rest can just be pounded into the ground.  They only had a couple of small woven wire rolls for me.  As an added bonus they had just got in four slightly used cow panels.  I snagged those for use as round protectors for our new baby trees.  Grandma Lane gave us six new one year old black walnut trees.  They need to be protected from all livestock and deer.  The trailer will need a front tongue support.  I will take if off of an old camp trailer we have at the house.  I will then be able to load it with the tractor and then hook up and pull it with the same tractor.  I will now be able to move compost from the barn lot to my back rock wall, allowing me to build the wall higher.  The T-posts are not necessary but I buy them every time I find them because they will be needed eventually. 
T-posts that need straightened.

New wall oven.
I picked up our new wall stove and Gannon helped me get it into the house.  We tried to get it into the library while packaged.  Not going to happen, we got stuck in the door way and had to cut it out of the packaging to get it in the rest of the way.  I needed it out of the packaging so I could take some real time measurements.  I think better with a tape measure. 

I had big plans for buying some lumber today and making a cabinet.  I spent almost three hours redrawing my plans.  I was off by 1/2 inch which would not have been big enough for the oven.  I changed my mind and decided to go with 3/4 inch oak plywood for the sides.  This means my inside supports have to be raised to allow the width for the oven to be uniform.  I caught this in my old sketch, causing more changes.  I have not ever purchased oak 3/4 inch double sided plywood before, oh wow, $80/board.  The center cabinet is going to cost $225 without doors and hardware.  I am going to get all three cabinets installed then we can decide how to finish off the doors and front.  I don't want to cut a hole in the wall for power until the cabinet is made.  It has to be directly below the shelf. It only called for 12 g wire but I was unwilling to use it.  I will be installing 10 g wire and a 240 V 20 Amp breaker. The oven gets wired directly into the electrical box, no plug necessary.  I had to order more wood and a finish blade for my skilsaw.  I will clamp a 2x4 to the plywood and run my skilsaw along its edge to get a nice clean cut.  I need to split the sheets on their long side then on their short side for the shelves. 

I cooked a meal on the installed cooktop last night it was very nice, easy to use and had a nice even heat.  This morning I went to light the central burner and it would not light.  I kept trying then lit a side burner, WHOOSH!   I burned all the hair off the back of my left hand.  There was quite the collection of gas on top of the stove when it finally took off.  Definitely, need to get a handle on how to actually light the cooktop while I still have a little hair left on my head. 

Wall Oven Ponderings

Oven cabinet for back wall in kitchen.
Annmarie and I sat down the other day to decide how to go about installing the freestanding oven on the back wall in our kitchen.  First, we are going to move the sideboard into the dining room.  This is where it belongs as a working piece of furniture.  Next, we measured the space 71 inches wide and decided it should be as tall as the other shelves I made out of old doors so 79 inches tall.  Annmarie then printed out the installation instruction manual from the internet so I could get actual dimensions.  I sat in a chair and drew stick drawings while she got on the computer and mocked it all up.  We will have three separate cabinets.  This allows for ease of mobility.  As a single unit it would weigh a ton with a 155# oven installed.  This also lets me install the center and get some exact measurements for each side.  All three pieces will stick out from the wall 24 inches.  I was going to go with 2x4 notched for 1x4 side supports with plywood across for shelving but that takes up a lot of width for six boards plus siding.  I would waste almost a foot of space.  This was the rough draft.  It will have two doors under the stove with pull out drawers for pans and heavy stuff.  This means getting really good heavy duty rollers.  We are going to make the bottom left corner a wine rack with a glass front.  The three doors on the upper shelves will all lift upwards.  When I order the heavy duty drawer sliders I will order good hinges.  We are going to use the same knobs and pulls we are going to install in the repainted kitchen cupboards.  I will need to get that order in soon also. 

I had a chicken die last week and Annmarie made me promise to call the state if another one died.  I had to call and talk to several people before they left a message for the state vet.  He called the other day and we discussed my dead chicken.  Our chickens have no direct contact with any waterfowl.  All confirmed cases of H1N1 in domestic birds have been from direct contact with waterfowl feces.  So not the cause of my bird death most likely.  If I continue to have unaccountable deaths I need to freeze the chicken and contact them again.  He was very helpful and answered all my questions.  A most pleasant interaction.