Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sprayer up and going

Sprayer up and going.

Another burn pile up in smoke. 
I had this plan, go outside and just lift the spray tank up with my quick connect 3 point hitch, wire in some power and spray.  It was a great plan, flawed but a great plan. I tried to lift the tank and the quick hitch would not lower enough.  I lifted the tank onto the bottom two points then realized I needed to raise the upper hook on the three point.  It was stuck and took some work and choice words.  I got it in the correct position and tightened and then the tank would not fit.  The pump kept hitting the quick hitch.  I had to take the quick hitch off and manually put the tank on, after I reattached the quick hitch upper hook back into its original position.  I did manage to start the couch burn pile on fire.  Annmarie was tired of the eyesore and I was tired of hearing about it.  The wind switched directions away from the house so we would not fill up with smoke.  Thirty minutes later it was a small pile of ashes.  I had to fill the tank with water and mess around with the nozzles and valves for another hour before I could make the sprayer work correctly.  I only had two joints and the pressure valve leak, all of them were fixable.  I managed to spray 100 gallons of 2-4-D today for a total of 125 gallons.  I am going to try and keep track of how much spray I use this year.  I have a lot more spraying to accomplish. 

We had another baby lamb two days ago!  The sheep are multiplying at an amazing rate.  I have 15 of them lined up for local customers.  My mother still has the last two living chickens at her house.  They are very big about 8 inches high already.  I need to get them out into the coop as the new babies should be here on Monday. 

Sprayer issues

Double yolker!

I finally finished my stretch of days at various jobs and it is time to spray some weeds.  I am not opposed to herbicides it is just that getting ready to spray is always an ordeal.  Everything always magically breaks down over the winter.  This winter was no exception, stuff was broken.  I could not start the mule.  So off to town to buy a new battery.  It is not so simple as just putting a new battery into the slot.  I had to pour acid into the various cells, wait one hour and then charge the battery.  I installed the new battery and could not get the mule to start at all.  There were two flat tires and some animal had rubbed the brake light off the underside of the mule.  I could not get the mule into neutral.  I had to drag the mule out with the tractor and a chain.  Once I got the mule out in the open I was able to get it out of gear and mess with the shifter till the neutral switch was correctly aligned so the starter would kick in.

  Once I got it running I pumped up all four tires and then drove it over to the house to fill it up with gas.  I left it running while I filled it up with fuel.  I went down and filled the tank up with water and then spent another hour cleaning spray nozzles and making adjustments.  Once that was all done I was ready to spray!  I filled the tank 1/2 full and added some 2-4-D, 8 cups and 150 ml of surfactant.  Unfortunately, about five minutes into spraying I realized my back was getting wet.  I looked back and there was a crack across the whole upper third of the tank.  It was toast.  I finished spraying and the next day went looking for a new tank.  D and B had one 25 gallon tank left, so I scooped it up. At home I pulled it out of the box.  It was not the same tank, mine had the pump mounted on top and three holes drilled.  This new one only had the fill hole on top and one exit hole on the bottom of the tank.  It had the pump mounted to the long side of the tank.  I was going to have to make a ton of modifications and hope the pump worked mounted sideways.  I had seen a 3 point 55 gallon sprayer at D and B.  It was calling my name! I consulted the boss and back into town I went.

They had a floor model set up and it was missing a Y valve so I could add a wand, which was absent also.  There was no inline filter set up.  I spent 1.5 hours finding the correct fittings to add the necessary pieces and then waited 30 minutes to get the boxed sprayer loaded.  I had to go back into the store and get a pin for the hitch because it did not come with one.   I went home and promptly tore into it and installed the Y valve and wand setup.  Next I put on the inline filter and ran out of daylight.  I figured I would get it all finished the next morning. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who needs a gym membership?

I know I should work out,and I occasionally make plans to do so on a regular basis, but then I have days like yesterday. 

I spent a couple of hours at Grandma's house planting her garden, and then Mom and I took her out to dinner.  I was nearly home, and thinking about getting the sheep and horses in for the night. Then there it was the bull. He was somewhere he was not supposed to be - and he was not alone. The girls were all with him, including the possibly-not-bred heifers. The day before, Steve and I had moved the cows into the bottom with the sheep, partly because they had mostly eaten down the grass out in the front, but also because one of the little girls keeps running out in front of cars and was likely to get herself and someone else hurt. They were no longer in that pasture. They had moved down into the lower bottom with only two rickety fences and one road between them and the Black Angus Bulls that winter on the corner. Those Bulls were uninterested by our bull, but they were showing significant signs in those girls. 

The cows needed a new pasture. The best candidate pasture was the upper barn lot pasture. The easiest way to get the cows in there would be to run them across the back hillside and through a gate directly into that pasture. So, I went down and opened that gate, a process which required moving the wooden panel that we put up to supplement that gate last year. It wasn't that big a deal, but was an extra step. The dogs and I got that done and headed down to the to get the cows. On the way, Zeke put the sheep in. He was a happy boy and thought we were done. I told him we still had work to do and off we went. Between us and the cows was a 12' woven gate. You know the kind, just wire and posts. They are easy to build but painful to open and close. This one thankful had a cheater in it so I could get it open fairly easily. We went through and headed downhill so we could circle around the cows and get them going the right direction. 

Zeke was a good boy and followed instructions as my mobile pressure point to keep this cows going the right direction. It worked great!  Every time the cows tried to go around me, I moved Zeke up closer and they decided to go the direction I wanted.  He was such a good boy. Of course, I had to close that gate on my way back. Those are even more painful to close than it had been to open. I made it, but it was not easy. In the meantime, the cows had changed the plan, they had headed for the last gate they had gone through.  This, of course, was not the gate I had in mind. Luckily, it was the gate right behind Mom's house, and I had my cell phone. I called Mom to open the gate and let the cows through. This put the cows back in the front. This was not where I wanted them, but I could make it work. But first, I had to close that first gate I opened, open the gate between the barn lot and the upper pasture, and close the gate in the pasture that was currently open onto the hillside. I walked down to do that, and open two other gates that would let the cows into the barn lot proper. Then Zeke and I went back out for the cows. Luckily, they were beginning to get tired of being herded and just walked through the gate. 

I still had to get the horses. But, they were easy after all that.  Then I went inside and did push-ups and sit-ups with Sarah. Gotta be supportive in her efforts to get fit. 

I'm thinking I could call this the farm girl obstacle course.  I certainly feel like I worked out. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Barn lot ditch crossing

Barn lot crossing going in.

Water snake hiding under rock.
Yesterday I spent the day working on the barn lot crossing.  I spent five hours on the tractor moving dirt.  I got the culvert into place then braced it with rocks at the base and then slowly started piling dirt up from the right side.  Every few loads of dirt I would drive the tractor out onto the pile and compact it down.  I had to keep getting off the tractor and piling up rocks on the side to keep the dirt in the correct spot.  I eventually ran out of rocks to pile next to the dirt.  I did managed to finally get enough dirt into the middle that I could drive to the other side!  I need to put on my rubber boots and wade out into the water and get those rocks upstream.  I also have a few loose rocks over in my sheep compost pile that can go over here.  After that I will have to go onto the back hillside and start picking rocks.  I figure another three days just to get this finished.  Once it is done I will dig out the stream and add some gravel to the bank to fill in the low spot.  We will be able to drive across the culvert and avoid all water crossings.  It will make the stream that much better.  I found a few friends as I was relocating rocks. 

The horses are going to love it as they will not have to get their feet wet to cross the stream any more.  I had another chicken die, a teenage buff orpington.  I do not know why that breed and why that age group is dying off.  It makes no sense. 
I called around today looking for used railroad ties to make the new cow corral.  There are none to be had in Pendleton.  I found some in Hermiston at Payless lumber for $16/each, an entire semi truck load.  I am going over on Tuesday to pickup at least 30.  I need 30 for the corral and about 15 more for fencing.  It is painful but if I don't do it know I might not get another shot at it till the end of summer.  I am also looking into renting a backhoe for a day to finish the irrigation pond.  I broke the earthen dam and flooded the pit I was working on so there is no other recourse. 

Salamanders hiding under rock.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Irrigation ditch day 5

culvert getting maneuvered into place.

Today I went to my favorite place, the scrap metal yard.  I spent 90 minutes getting a chunk of culvert.  When I realized I was getting the culvert for the low low price of $0.30/lb I asked for a second piece of culvert for the barn lot!  We will be able to fix the bridge by installing a nice big culvert and backfilling.  There will be no need to drive through the front spring any more.  This will allow me to narrow the stream and fill in along the edges.  The scrap yard guy free cut the rusty pipe with a torch in a perfect line!  It was impressive.  I even complimented him on a job well done.  I snagged about 300 pounds of rolled wire and some loose chain also.  The best part was each culvert only cost about $90, an incredible price.  I am hoping the cows use the culverts instead of walking through the water.  Tomorrow I have a bunch of honey do chores.  I am hoping to make some time for ditch digging. 
Barn lot culvert in place just need to back fill.

Lower culvert in place.  Still needs some more dirt added but I can drive over with tractor!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Canal day 4.

Clear coat, two layers done.
This morning the dogs went out with me to let the sheep out of the ram pasture.  Sprout now thinks he needs to go out with Zeke and I every morning.  I let him as he needs the exercise.  There were only ten sheep in the correct pasture.  The back creek is low enough that most of the sheep were able to cross under the fence near the creek without getting their feet wet.  I lowered the panels on both ends of the pasture.  Zeke chased the leftover sheep out of the ram pasture.  We are still working on the command "to me".  I want him to bring the sheep toward me and he wants to leave the sheep and come to me himself.  This causes confusion and swearing for both parties.  He did it correctly in the end.  We just need to keep working on it. 

I put the clear coat on the oven cabinets today.  I purchased a water based satin polyurethane after looking at all the choices.  I still like the wax idea but after reading about it, I decided against it.  The finish is not very durable and needs to be redone on a fairly regular basis.  It can also collect dust.  I recoated the shelves after an hour.  I used the whole quart on the cabinet. 

There was still time to go out and dig on the ditch.  I thought I would just move the large dirt pile and then I could get back into the ditch.  It did not happen the way I thought it would.  It took me 2.25 hours to dig down the whole dirt pile and spread it out.  It just kept going and going, I never thought I would make it through.  Once it was done, I checked the time and said enough. 

There are still 2 out 12 chicks alive at my parent's house.  They look great and are very healthy.  Now the only thing left to do in the kitchen is to plumb the downdraft exhaust.  I still have not finished cutting out the floor hole. 

Dirt pile leveled off. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Canal day 3.

Progress is happening.

I did it, another two hours of labor digging the pit!  My back knows the pit is getting bigger.  It complains every time I dig.  Usually, screaming uncle by the second hour.  I would like to say it is getting easier.  I don't think that will be true until June gets here.  I will have done enough manual labor to get back into good shape.  I tell myself every year that if I would just keep in shape over the winter, spring would be easier on the body.  I did work out this winter, but obviously not enough.
Zeke had to hang out near my work area.  He tried to sneak off once, but digging is not enough of a distraction to give him the time he needs to disappear.  By the end of the two hours he was content to hang out, sleep and watch me work.  I am saving the water side for last.

We used 864 gallons of propane last year to heat and cook in our house.  This was a drop from previous years.  If this trend continues with our new freestanding propane stove in the dining room I think it will pay for itself in five years.  The savings in propane is amazing. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More digging?

2.5 hours worth of digging.

starting point for the day.
I worked for 2.5 hours today digging.  My plan is to do this every day until my vacation is over.  I will be begging them to let me come back to work by the end of the week!  I broke out a Pulaski so I could break the soil up before shoveling it.  It made things much easier.  Luckily, I have managed to not break the berm so the hole is nice and dry.  I had to get up onto the dirt pile outside the hole and shovel all the dirt off onto the other side.  I sure wish I could get the tractor over here and level the area with it.  I am thinking about laying some railroad ties across the stream and driving said tractor across.  Still weighing the benefits against getting the tractor stuck in the ditch.  Until I can decide I guess I will be using a human powered shovel. 
Zeke is going to be no use when it comes to the alpacas.  He is an attractant to them.  They all bum rush the fence in an attempt to get at him so they can stomp on him.  He would be okay with a few of them but eight of them and one of him are not good odds even for the Zekemeister!

I had another chicken die today.  It is so frustrating to walk in the coop and find another dead chicken.  It occurred to me that the only chickens dying are my buff orpingtons that are 7 months old.  No one else is sick or dying.  It is very strange.  Annmarie pointed out that they are eating in a different place than the other chickens.  We are watching them all and I only have one or two still alive.  I lost another chick yesterday.  I have 2 out of 12 still alive.  This is not a very good survival ratio. 
Zeke and his new nemesis.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kitchen window trim done

Kitchen window completed!
Robert came over and we installed the kitchen window trim.  I only had one eight year old reject trim board out in the old house.  It was just long enough to split in half and do the kitchen window.  No mistakes were allowed or there would not be enough trim.  We measured everything a few times and then I wrote down the dimensions then we went out to the yard and set up the table saw in the grass.  We had to rip the board into 4.25 and 5 inch widths.  We cut the bottom five inch piece first and it fit perfectly.  We tapped it into place and then I marked the two 1/4 inch x2 inch cutout spots for the window.  Then took it out and I trimmed those out with the jigsaw.  It fit perfectly and we just shimmed the back up to make it level front to back.  A repeat of the top board was done then I accidently cut one of the sides too short!  Luckily, there was enough leftover to tear a five inch board down to 4.25 inch and cut the side out of it.  The sides were a pretty tight fit but we managed to get them in place and everything nailed in place.  It looks very good and Annmarie is happy. 

No more honey bees in barn wall.

I was outside showing Robert the barn when I decided to check on the honey bees.  The weather was warm and I had seen some honey bees in our yard.  No go, I looked outside and listened to the wall and heard no activity.  While Robert was missing the rock chucks with a rifle, I tore down the boards and found an empty dead nest, no honey and no bees.  I tore it all out.  We still don't know where the honey bees are living that we keep seeing all over the farm.  I am still reading books on how to raise honey bees. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Irrigation progress

Irrigation pump starting.
Yesterday was the day to get back to the irrigation system.  We know the motor turns and the electrical panel works so now I need to see if the pump will draw and pump water so it can actually be used.  Unfortunately, it is not that easy a task.  Over the years without using the pump the dirt has built up and taken away the pond area that is needed to provide a ready water source. Ideally, I would own a backhoe, but as I have not won the lottery yet other means of digging were utilized.  I attempted to drive the tractor with box blade straight across the creek.  The box blade hung up on the steep bank.  Luckily, I have the quick disconnect and just dumped the blade in place and managed to rock the tractor back and forth enough to get out of the mud.  It looks like the stream is only two feet wide but no, the mud is about five feet wide and the grass is deceiving you like it did me.  Once across the creek I tried to flatten out the hill that keeps growing from dirt getting dug out of the ditch.  Then I started to dig into the dirt with the tractor.  I kept digging until I was so unsteady on the tractor that my fear of tipping over out weighed the painfulness of digging the ditch by hand.  With enough three wheeled maneuvers and instability issues even I will quit.  Once fear forced me to quit I drove back across the stream and picked the box blade up and reattached it to the tractor.  I then dug the ditch from the left side of the stream until I got the front tires stuck and could not use the bucket to push myself out.  Phil had to come pull me out with the pickup.  Phil worked on gluing and screwing all the 2x4's together to make two new wooden platforms for the pump.  We installed those and removed the old decayed boards.  It is amazing that the pump did not fall through those old boards, there was hardly anything left to them.  We then spent 2.5 hours digging by hand.  After that amount of time my entire body was ready to scream UNCLE!  I have muscles complaining that I had forgotten I even had.  I think it will take at least 12 more hours to dig out the ditch and pond area, maybe 25 hours.  I will work on it 2-3 hours a day and see what kind of progress I make. 

The bull got onto the back hillside after we worked on the fence.  I think he crawled through the barb wire, but I am not sure.  I will need to install the sheep woven wire sooner than later to prevent this from happening again.  Annmarie let him in with our two yearling heifers so he was very happy.  Unfortunately for him, they are not in heat yet.  He will have to wait a few weeks for them to cycle again.  All the cows are now out by the vehicles.  The sheep are now in with the horses and need to be pushed out of the barn lot and back onto the hillside so I can open up the barn area to the back hillside.  The fence on the back hillside is nonexistent but the horses won't wander away.  Who knows why not but they stay on the hillside unlike the sheep or the cows.  We want them to get up there and eat some grass. 

I lost a few more baby chickens.  I am down to only three chicks, 2 buff and 1 dark Brahma.  A 75% loss due to noxious fumes.  Annmarie is going to order more chicks today.  She also came up with the great idea to wax our new stove cabinet.  Furniture used to be stained and wax used as the finish so I will have to call someone who knows more than me about furniture, Doug that is you.  I like the idea and am willing to give it a try. 

Day one of digging with new platform.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

More gates needed.

New gates into the upper wheat field done.

Back of chicken coop cleaned and storage organized.

2300# of layer pellets!
Today was another day spent working on the farm.  Phil and I vacuumed out and cleaned out the entire back half of the chicken coop.  We organized and made room for 2600# of chicken food.  I did actually drive the pickup around to the chicken coop so we didn't have to pack it all across the bridge.  I spread out 14 of the poison packs all around the area in the hopes that I can keep the mice out of a years worth of chicken food.  The coop is much cleaner and I can now find the things I need. 

We then went out and worked on the new 36 foot gate area into the upper wheat field. The equipment needs to go through the middle of the property for ease of access.  The old stretch fence was not working as the bull was hooking it with his horns and then walking over it.  We had to tear up the metal T-posts that I had used to keep the bull inside.  We shrunk the opening and installed a new H brace.  I had to go pull up two other old rail road ties that were no longer in use.  I tried using a figure 8 tightening wire with high tension wire and a inline tightener.  It took me a while trying to tighten it with a pry bar to realize that the 8 pointed star was really the receptacle for a 1/2 inch drive ratchet.  Once I used the ratchet it was easy to tighten.  I read about this in a book and the best part is you can retighten it after the fence is in place annually.  I cannot do that if I use smooth wire and twist with a board.  I am getting faster at the fencing and gates.  We had the entire fence and gates done in 3.5 hours.  I am also now setting all posts in gravel.  I am hoping it makes them more secure. 

Cabinet casualties.

stove cabinets stained, they look great.

Yesterday, I tore into my vacation work and sanded then stained the new kitchen shelves.  The color is just right and the oak plywood turned out great.  Both of us are very happy with the outcome.  After a couple of hours staining I was starting to get a little headache and buzz.  There was one small detail I forgot about.  The baby chicks were in the dining room.  Two of them croaked in the first hour.  I guess we know why miners carried canaries down into the mines.  They don't do toxic fumes well.  I moved the chicks up to the breeze porch and opened all the windows.  Another one died in the next four hours.  My mother volunteered to watch the babies at her house.  So we took them over last night, maybe they will have a fighting chance.  As of tonight there are only four left out of the dozen and one was looking a little off.  I don't know that any will survive. I am going to have to order more.  I did not even think about the chicks when I started staining. 
Pallet of layer pellets.

Sarah and I went to town for more chicken food.  She had picked up 12 bags of food during the BiMart sale and I wanted more.  Turns out they were shipped too many pallets of layer pellets.  I got to buy a whole pallet at the sale price!  A great deal for all involved.  Sarah and I loaded it into the pickup and then went to go pickup gates and cow panels for the new cow sorting chute and pens.  We could not get the small gates for the chute area.  Everything else but railroad ties are stacked and ready to go.  Its hard to believe that railroad ties or the lack thereof are going to be my single biggest hindrance.  Crazy problem.  So be on the lookout for 20-30 railroad ties, cause I need them. 
layer pellets in pickup.

Gates and cow panels for cow pens.

The pickup pulled the whole load no problem.  I love the V-10 engine. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chickens are here!

Baby chicken time!
It is that time of the year again, and I don't mean Easter.  It just happened to be coincidence we have baby chicks in the dining room for Easter dinner.  I bought 6 buff brahma and 6 dark brahma chicks.  Between chicks, feed and bedding I just about spent my accrued profit to date.  Unfortunately, they won't be productive for 6-8 months.  When they get so noisy we cannot hear the television I will put them out in the baby area in the chicken coop.  That criteria has been working well for us. 

I needed to get out and exercise again today.  I like things to get accomplished when I exercise.  It is why it is so hard to do at home.  My solution to this is the back rock wall.  When I need to exercise I use it as a form of therapy and exercise.  There is something relaxing about building something simple and massive.  I use a shovel and an old heavy duty T post as a pry bar.  Some of those boulders were buried pretty far in the ground.  I managed to snag five huge boulders out of the ground and get them in place.  Soon I will have to fire up the tractor to drag in some dirt behind the rock wall.  But for now it is just digging up rocks and building up the wall. 
rocks finding new home
I had a stash of rocks on the West side of the creek from when I had the tires stacked for planters.  The rocks stayed when the planters got torn out.  I started tossing them to the opposite side of the stream to be used in the future rock wall.  This cleans up the West side and gets me more rocks for the East side.
I need some new glasses soon, I can hardly see the rock chucks up on the back hill side with naked eyes.  The closing of PGG is still haunting me.  I tried to buy used railroad ties for building fencing in Pendleton and D & B does not have any, maybe 3-6 months!  That will not help me get the corral installed.  They do have a bunch of gates in different sizes and weights.  I priced the material from them needed for the new corral pens. 
Upper shelf worked on today.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chicken financials first quarter of 2015.

For feed safety!

On average I had 22.3 laying hens giving me 8.3 eggs/day, for a productivity rate of 36% (this is great for Winter, and only 1% less than last year at the same time).  I am feeding on average 167# chicken feed/month for a grand total of 500# this year already (100# more than last year, with 6 more chickens than last year).  Bimart just put their chicken feed on sale for one week.  It is only $11.99/50# of layer pellets and $9.99/50# of scratch.  The only real problem is they put a limit of only six bags of each type!  So now I have to get Sarah to buy six of each type, Annmarie another 12 and me 12 more for a total of 1800#.  This won't get me through the entire year but it saves me $3 on scratch and $5 on pellets for a savings of $144/feed.  That is a lot of savings.  The only problem with this is I have to store it all in the back of the coop.  So more cats is essential and I found these cute little poison pellet containers that dogs, kids and cats cannot get to the bait only mice.  I already put some out in the coop and will get more.  Plus, I will be cleaning the coop out very soon, probably while on vacation. 
  My monthly feed bill is $37.30/month (only a 1.50 increase over last year).  My feed costs are $1.93/doz with my total cost of production $1.93/doz (I have not purchased anything else at this point.  This will change as I clean out the coop and pay for new wood pellets and I will be getting babies at the end of the week).  I have collected 713 eggs to date (almost 150 more than last year).  Total feed costs are $112, supply expenses are none.  I am keeping with the new charge of $4/doz I started last year.  Eggs just keep getting more expensive in the grocery store.  I currently have a profit of $84 for the year.  My goal is to just make more than last year.  The eggs yolks are starting to turn a nice dark orange.  The chickens are spending more time outside free ranging in the pastures. 

I have one Turken chicken that is very broody.  She has claimed the old green cooler as her nest box and has been very diligent in staying in there.  Two days ago I gave her six eggs, five green ones and a white one.  I forgot to mark them with a pencil.  So there is no telling how many eggs she has in there now.  I will go out tomorrow and mark them and take away any extra eggs she may have.  The eggs should hatch in 21-24 days.  I can never remember the exact incubation period.  If so, then we will have lots of babies. 

Soon I will see the sun.

Old baking pan rack made several years ago.
I am trying to finish off the kitchen so I can get outside and dig into the myriad number of projects waiting for me.  Luckily, mother nature is cooperating with me this week, it is miserable cold and windy outside.  I had to use the saw multiple times yesterday and had a coat and long sleeve coat on during those excursions.  I started cutting the hole in the kitchen floor for the downdraft fan vent.  My fear was I would hit a floor support under the house.  I am pretty sure I did.  I just about have the square cut out and I think the back one inch is a support.  I will know after I dig the cut out of the hole.  If that is the case I may try and install the six inch pipe connection and use a pivoting joint to move around the support.  If I could avoid it altogether that would be the best!  I can cover the hole and shoot in some expanding foam so the cold doesn't creep up into the kitchen.  I will dig into that after Easter.  The kitchen window trim is next. 

Annmarie has been bugging me to fix her cooking pan sorting rack.  The pans were just kind of haphazardly tossed in and hard to get out.  She wanted a second shelf and a new plywood side that was smooth.  That was the first project I tackled yesterday.  The nice part was I reused some of the plywood from the oven stand and two pieces of old oak trim I got last week from a contractor friend.  I love repurposing old things and giving them new life. 
New and improved baking pan rack.

Shelves installed and fan hidden.  We are still deciding on doors.
Once that was complete and all oiled up.  I only use olive oil as the finish.  Once a year I just reapply the oil to the entire piece.  I love the way it takes the stains and oil and pan burns, it adds character.  The wood doesn't split or crack with the oil as a buffer.  Olive oil does not spoil.  It took almost 2/3 cup of oil to work in as a finish.  It is applied liberally. 

Next was the cooktop creation shelves.  I had started to store the pan lids on the top shelf but there was no way to keep them from falling off the back of the shelf.  So I had to cut a new piece and attach it to the back of the installed shelf.  One big hurdle was I wanted it tall enough to hid the cook top and downdraft fan bodies.  This meant that after cutting the back it was so tall that the shelf could not be removed as it hit the front side supports.  I made Sarah hold it out halfway so I could crawl under and predrill and install screws along the backside to hold the back wall in place. 
I did the bottom shelf next and had to cut the sides three times before I got them right.  The bottom shelf needs to slide out as one unit.  I don't have the vent duct work installed so I could not permanently hide the plumbing.  I did want to hide the unsightly metal from the down draft fan.  So the back upright pieces go within 1/8 of an inch from the upper shelf.  It also slides right out as one unit, shelf and back wall are attached. 

Three days ago I sent Zeke out to get the sheep on the back hill side.  He was not cooperating and kept stopping and looking back for the next command.  I had to walk out into the orchard to keep hollering orders.  Sprout was tagging along behind me.  The alpaca started to wander over toward us.  I didn't think any thing about it and continued hollering at Zeke.  I happened to look over my shoulder and the little brown alpaca was stomping poor sprout!  He was going to town on sprout, had him rolling around on the ground trying to get away.  I had to run over and shoo the alpaca back and pick sprout up off the ground to keep him away from the alpaca.  I knew llama were good guard animals for the sheep but had read that alpaca are not as aggressive and therefor not good guard animals.  That may be true of most alpacas but no one told that to the little brown one.  This may make the alpacas hard to work with Zeke. 

Sunset from helicopter.  It was pretty!