Monday, October 16, 2017

Painting again

Annmarie is gone so I have started painting again in the craft room, which was going to be a library. I had these great ideas about making custom bookshelves for the entire room but I have come to realize that the floor loom needs a home. I would love to get the sewing table out of our master bedroom. We need a craft room. 

I usually make better progress when she is out of town. I work whenever I want and eat or don't eat whenever I want. This cuts down on my schedule demands. Now it's not good for me and I do recognize that. There is a reason that married men live longer than single men. 
The dogs have been demanding to go outside. Gizmo thinks he is a big dog and loves running around out in the yard with the border collies. 

We have decided to go with color this time around. I keep hoping that I can get the color on the wall and only have to paint one coat. It never ever works out that way. I always have had to paint two coats. It doesn't matter how many times the salesman tells me it will only take one coat, they are always wrong. 

One more coat to go. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Water line version 2.0

The baby is very cute. It's mother is the not so crazy one so it has been much safer to walk through the barn lot without the dogs. Annmarie took this picture and I love it. 

Annmarie sent me this picture Wednesday afternoon while I was still at work. I already knew there was a bad water leak. First thing after soaping up in the shower the water drops to a slight trickle. I barely managed to get the soap out of my hair and off my body. I checked my repair by the faucet on my way out the door. Usually, when I do plumbing it has to be redone a couple of times but no leak. Mind you by the time I got home it was raining and dark. This summer I had picked up some waterproof bibs, at a yard sale, and this was my first chance to try them out. So I donned a waterproof hat, coat, bibs and boots. I looked like an all weather tire commercial hawker. I spent three hours digging out the leak by hand. At one point I had to go get a gallon can so I could bail the water out of the hole as I dug down farther. I was certain after looking at the picture that the leak was near the well casing. But after exposing four feet of pipe I could not see the leak. I opted to have Donna turn the pump on for a count of five to determine where the leak was located. Nope, I had to dig another three feet distal to where I had my large hole. The pipe had a bunch of glued unions from multiple breaks. After more bailing and digging I finished for the night. I needed a shower. 

The next day I called the plumber and they came out and fixed it. They cut out one large section with multiple repairs and replaced it with one intact new pipe piece. Donna said it took them a couple of hours. The bill will come in the mail next week I am sure. I flushed the system out through the outside faucets and then finished filling in the hole with gravel. The gravel makes the hole much easier to dig but does let the water run and deceive you when it comes to leak location. 
The water pressure is great now but these things come in threes so I have one more hole to dig in my near future. 

I came home tonight and found the bull in the large wheat field. He was mooning over the cow that had just had her baby. Now mind you he had to push the upper hillside fence over and run around the upper prime pasture fence because he couldn't get through it. We just repaired all of it this summer. Once above that fence he had to go through the eight foot tall weeds and find the one open gate on the wheat side and then walk all the way down to the barn. I just opened up the gate on that side and he shuffled right in with no fuss. Annmarie and I had talked about running all the cows back together but I wanted to tag and possibly band this baby first before letting them mix together. 
There was no barn kitty waiting for scrunches when I fed tonight. I have only been able to touch it once. It loves Annmarie.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Baby cow.

Surprise!!  We have a baby cow. Our cows are the hardest thing for us to keep track of birthing times. They are all out of sync and if we try to pull the bull off we have no secure area. He just goes through the fence. We need a small area with access to water that is made out of all buried wooden posts with two layers of woven wire about 5' tall to keep him in. This will eventually be in the barn lot attached to the new gate I installed in front of the old lambing shed. The real problem is it's about $1000 in wooden posts and then I have to drill out all the post holes and install the posts. This is lots of work. I will finish getting in corners and gates for now till I am ready to build the bull area. We would also like to be able to put our rams in the same area. This way we will have a secure area for all our boys that will allow us to control birthing times. 
The baby was just born today as I had not seen it yesterday when I was checking in the cows. I went down and fed the other half of the cow herd from the back hillside and there were no baby calves with them. They tend to hide them better when they are on the bottom pasture. Mama was giving me the stink eye while I was taking the picture just outside the fence. I didn't want her to force the baby to move so I didn't get any closer. Also, the cows are super protective at this stage and it's not safe to be alone in the pen with them. The best way to get to the calf is to put the dogs opposite of you and the mama will go for the dogs allowing you to get much closer than if the dogs were attempting to push her off on your side. 

Annmarie did fantastic at the medieval event and managed to sell off about half our trailer. Most of the garb and fight gear is all gone. There are still several cool items. We are going to offer the trailer for sale now as is.  You have to hook up to it and drive it away with all its contents. It will be like Christmas when the buyer gets home and gets to empty it out!  We are asking around $2500 with some wiggle room, cash is king! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

It is amazing!

All that is left of the hay that needed to be brought into the barn is about 8 bales that did not survive my haphazard tractor created pile. Since the sheep got out of the back hillside Thursday evening and Annmarie had to put them into the barn lot with the assistance of both dogs and our child and friend. They probably need some food. It's pretty slim pickings on the barren hillside and dried up bottoms. 
I had already thrown a broken large bale over the fence last week so we opened up the gates and let the sheep and cows clean it all up. The horses are greatly incensed by this as Annmarie has decided they need to be confined until their feet are trimmed. They let me know this in no uncertain terms even after feeding them first thing in the morning and again this afternoon. 

The brothers got dropped off by dad on his way to work. I had got back late last night and did not have time to do the prep work for jambalaya. I wanted to get the sausage cooked and onions sautéed. Annmarie is gone so the dish is going to be something we would not eat together. Which is why anything with beans is usually the menu choice. But I had some shredded chicken I needed to use up and some corn and some sausage. I had some leftover bacon so I threw that in there. I did only put in half of a huge onion, I considered the whole thing but it is our last onion and I didn't want to be without. 
So I was finishing up cooking breakfast sausage when the boys arrived. They said they had eaten so I finished cooking. I had the jambalaya doing its first 20 minutes of cooking. I went all out and use Zataran's boxed jambalaya. I had added a can of garlic tomatoes and I used chicken broth instead of water, it was leftover in the fridge also. I went with the spirit of the fridge for my main ingredients. I had one of the boys feed the horses while I fired up the old tractor. We needed to empty the trailer first. It started right up!  The minute I tried to drive it or put a load on the engine it started to sputter and died!!  This is not good!  We had to unload the trailer by hand and stack it into the machine shop. I figured we would start with those as they are the heaviest bales. I sent the boys to start filling the barn and cautioned them to alternate bales and rows. I went and took some more broken bales to the cows. By the time I had gotten back to the barn the boys had filled the entire floor of the barn with one layer of hay faced all in the same direction. The bales are loose so very fragile. Not to mention it's hard to walk across hay. I made them pick up 80% of it and we discussed working from the opposite corner from the door and forming two wings with a ladder arrangement that lets you get bales to the top as fast as you can. This concept of gravity and always working upwards had to be reinforced throughout the day. You need a bale on a lower level you pull the unattached one from above!  Constantly reminding them the goal is to stack it to the top and it was past that level so it needs to go higher so work and effort are not squandered. They were catching on by the tenth ton. 

By 0900 I remembered what it is like to work with brothers. I have had three different sets of brothers out over the years and it is always the same. I finally had to put in a no complaining clause until 1400. I was then questioned as to why that was a good time to complain. I informed them that they would be sore and have a full stomach from lunch and would have a good perspective on how much work was really left. This cut out the complaining. I was instantly rewarded for my quick thinking, little did I know. The weather was perfect and miserable for moving hay. The wind was blowing 20-25mph and the temperature was pretty cool. I moved hay all day in a tshirt and super lightweight long sleeved shirt and I never broke into a sweat. The problem was when Annmarie called me with updates I would hold still and began to get chilly. It started to rain so I told the boys to pick up the pace. I went to check on the kitty for the third time as I had not seeen him today. I spotted the orange tom eating his cat food so I refilled it for the kitty. He showed up and so did Gizmo. Now it was 1100 and Gizmo had been outside since 0730. He was cold, face and legs covered in stickers and shivering. I pulled all the stickers out and took him into the house. When I went back out the boys suggested we could work past lunch and eat a little later to get the hay in. It stopped raining so by 1207 there was some clamoring for lunch. Now mind you no one is wearing a watch. I had my cell phone playing music and had been explaining various songs and meanings to the boys. Early on when explaining that we were having gumbo for lunch, yes I did mess this up, they said what's gumbo?  So I said Cajun food. What is Cajun food? was the response I received. So I then proceeded to give them a lecture about growing up in a small town does not mean you have to be a hick. They asked me what a hick was?  I finally got all that straightened out and worked in a math lesson when someone asked me how much hay the animals needed each day. We did some extra math and shortcuts and discussed the joys of using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division all at once to make difficult math problems simple. Break the problem down into manageable pieces and get an answer. 

It's lunch time and I am reheating the jambalaya on the stove and zapping my last two ears of corn to be cut off the cob and added. I forgot to do it in the morning. Now I should mention that no one really gets any say in what they get to eat for lunch. I don't usually ask anyone's preferences. I figure they are teenagers or young men and will eat whatever is put in front of them. So I dished up bowls for everyone and we eat. It's good so I ask the boys how it is. They say it's good. Then I start getting the input on what they do and don't eat. Neither one likes tomatoes but they both eat spaghetti and tomato soup. One doesn't like onions but is sure he doesn't taste any. Neither one likes plain rice but if it's flavored it's all right. I had my third lecture of the day about them really liking tomatoes but maybe they didn't really know what it was they wanted. They both had seconds and there was half a bowl left so I could eat it for dinner. 

At 1404 I was asked if it was past 1400 yet as no one had a watch. I informed them it was and the grumbling started back up. Having set this up myself I suffered through. The wind was so bad it looked like upward hay snow in the barn. It was horrible. Lots of coughing and hacking and drinking water. I was informed by one brother he had a sinus infection and was stuffed up. I told him to use a netti pot to rinse out his sinuses. What's that? Was the response I got so we went over that also. We finished up just before 1600. This was even after straightening the horse side of the barn and getting that room ready for four tons  of straw. So we cleaned up, picked up yard tools that were strung all over the farm and put them away. I had just found my battery sawzall and drill last weekend. They were out in one of the old stalls in the lamb barn. They were hidden so the animals would not get into them. Unfortunately, I had forgotten them and they have been missing all summer long. We drained and picked up all the hoses. Put away all the sprinklers and moved our new round horse trough into the backyard to add to our elevated garden. 

This was way more than I anticipated and we were headed into the house to get money to pay them when I decided they needed to help me get the safe into the house. This was accomplished without too much hassle. The only real problem is our living room is collecting things. Notice the picture below. You will see a large floor loom waiting on me to finish painting the craft room. You will see a newly acquired cedar chest that has no home yet. In the far left corner there is an end table that needs to go back to grandma Donna's house. On top of it is an antique chest that we have not chosen a location for yet. I decided that the middle of the living room was a great place for the safe. 

The boys were a great help and I really appreciated them sticking with it. They only zoned out a few times and I snapped them right back to reality each time. It was worse once they got tired after lunch. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Just barn it

I am closing in on winter hay but not without a few trials. I have about 12 ton piled outside the barn. It will be moved on Saturday with the help of two unsuspecting teenagers. They are getting paid to help. They have agreed to help. I just don't think they really know what it means to move that much hay into the barn by hand and stack it. I still have not gotten a hay elevator. The need is growing more urgent. 

I am trying to get Annmarie and our medieval trailer out the door today. It has sat idle for nine years so we are going to sell it and buy a stock trailer. We found a local group event outside the Tricities and she is going to spend the weekend vending that portion of our life. A medieval yard sale. I now remember how many things used to go wrong the closer we would get to an event. Annmarie had a flat tire on her car this morning. 
I just needed to unload hay from the flat bed so I could hook up the enclosed trailer. The tractor keeps doing the "vapor lock thing". I have a sneaking suspicion there is more to it. Tractor keeps dying. I cannot get all the hay unloaded and now the tractor is dead in the driveway. We will have to finish unloading by hand. I am currently trying to pump up Annmarie's car tire to see if it will hold air long enough for me to drive to town. After it has air I am going to try and get the trailer hooked up. I suspect I will have to change the ball size on my stinger. They are hard to swap out! Plus it  will be amazing if the trailer tires don't need work and I am running out of time quickly. 
I needed a new sign for my chicken coop. I need a beware of predators sign. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Oh yeah winter is coming!

I can always tell when winter is coming by when our water line leak decides to surface. Now Annmarie and I knew there was a water leak. We can always tell by the loss of water pressure in the bathroom. It still takes several months to surface. It's always a guessing game as to where it will appear. Annmarie sent me this picture Thursday morning!!  Ugh. I knew it was happening I just didn't know when or where it would appear. 
The first and most important thing to do is to call a plumber!  Which I did but they cannot come until Friday late morning. This is good as it will give me time to dig the hole. In this day and age most plumbers charge extra to dig a hole. So I had a plumber but I needed to be the general laborer. Annmarie got her mother to turn off the water around 1000. I arrived at home around noon and started digging. I dug the entire hole by hand and discovered that the leak was only a broken joint. 

The joint actually failed along its fusion seam. I was able to drive to Pendleton and get the $5 part and install it. I filled the hole back up by hand and we had water by 1700!!  It was the cheapest plumbing fix ever. I even amazed myself. 

We picked up this trunk from a yard sale. It went to college in the 1920's.  We just need to clean it up now. 

Some weird bug out on the bridge. It looked like a beetle of some kind. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

It's raining

Does this look like I am ready for rain?  I have been trying to get our hay into the barn. Now I cannot do this if I don't have hay here at the house. It takes me almost two hours round trip to get a load and get it unloaded and back. So I can only squeeze in one trip in the evenings that I and the seller are free. I am trying very frantically to get it all here on the farm and then I can get it into the barn. I currently have three loads "stacked" outside the barn doors ready for me to move them inside.  It picks this week to rain!!  Now I have to wait a couple of days before I can stack it inside the barn. Just another added delay. 
I just about have unloading down with the new tractor but I keep dropping one or two bales which makes for uneven stacking. This has caused my stacking job to look more like a pile than a stack. On a plus side I am just going to grab them and toss them inside the barn to then be stacked again. Neatness doesn't count midway through. 
So Thursday we have a nice steady light rain coming down out of the sky. Hopefully the bales won't get too soaked. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Life flashed before me

I headed out an hour late to unload the traile Sunday morning . I fired up the tractor and got all six bales unloaded. Easy peasy. Off I go to get my first load of the day. Only four large bales left then we can add on some small bales. The large bales got loaded onto the trailer in an even row. The tail end bale puts a lot of weight onto the back of the trailer. With the six bales two more went on top on the front half of the trailer. So small bales were loaded on top and I strapped everything down with four straps instead of my normal two. I headed out just like normal. My route took me through the reservation and part of Pendleton. This was to avoided much of the  freeway as possible. I only had a two mile stretch of freeway to drive on. I got on the freeway and at 65 mph the trailer started to sway. I stepped on the brake and it got worse.  It was going four feet on each side of the pickup and the pickup was starting to move. I had enough time to look at the cab and realize it was still clean so I wouldn't get pelted with tools when the pickup rolled. I also acknowledged that this was going to hurt and we would need a new pickup. All this in a split second then I punched the gas. The brake wasn't working and I thought if I could pull the trailer in a straight line I might be able to stop the swaying. It worked!  I immediately let off of the gas, slowed down and pulled off to the side of the road. It took several minutes for me to feel comfortable getting back on the freeway. I thought this was caused by a brake issue so once I got to the other side of Pendleton I tried to go 55 mph. It did the same thing!  So I turned on my flashers and drove 30 mph on highway then got onto the old road and drove 20 mph! I made it home, contemplated life again in the cab then got out to unload hay. The tractor only did about 20 bales before it ran out of gas!  Are you kidding me?  I had to block the trailer in place, unhook it and take the pickup to get another ten gallons of fuel. The fuel gauge still read 3/4 of a tank. I unloaded the last two large bales and finished putting up the portable corral around them to keep the critters away. The alpaca think the only bales that are edible are the ones on my trailer!!  No matter that two large bales are broken open on the ground!  They go for the trailer bales every time, swearing and running at them has not discouraged them an iota. 

I did manage to get another load but it ended up staying on the trailer. Annmarie loaded bales into the barn for me while I went on an EMS run. She got 18 bales into the barn and I did another 20 when I got home. That is a ton of hay as the bales are quite light. I am really liking the light bales. Dragging those 100-120# behemoths around is a lot harder. I gave her many kudos for helping me out. 

We have a predator problem again. The raccoon is remaining very elusive. We have gone out twice in the early morning and this last time we never spotted the raccoon but it had killed two stupid chickens. One of the chickens was still in its death throes when we got to the coop. I have had the trap out with no success last night I put the trap in front of the enclosure entrance. I am borrowing another trap from a friend but it has to be attached to a post so it doesn't go away. It's game on!!  I only have 12 hens left plus two roosters. I need to get this killer under control before I end up with two roosters only! 
Our single kitten is still hanging in there. It doesn't know what to make of the horses now that they are coming in at night. I have not felt well the last two days but I need to start unloading hay so I can make more trips. I have seven more trips to go. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tractor does work

Well this is kind of a mish mash of things that have happened allweek. I was busy and didn't feel like I had enough for an entire blog entry then by today I had too much, go figure. I was gone last week so I am on a time crunch to get the hay loaded and setup here. It chose this week to rain for three days. We have had nothing but fire for two solid months. It never fails that when I want to do outside work the weather does not cooperate. 
I decided to do some painting as outside work was not possible. We had picked the colors and purchased the paint a while ago. We used a palette designed for turn of the century homes. We decided to go with some real color this time. I am painting the walls with doors in them and surprisingly the paint matched the doors amazingly well. This was a happy accident!  It does take two coats to prevent the white color from bleeding through. 

We had a good turn this week!  We were given an old safe from the late 1880's. There are only three small issues regarding the safe. First, we had to figure out how to load it ourselves. Secondly, it weighs a lot, over 600#!  Thirdly, there is no combination with it and the door is shut. The smart wife engineer came up with the idea of using a come-a-long. We hooked it into the fifth wheel attachment base.  I had stopped and gotten two 2x10 boards cut into 6 feet lengths. We used those as a ramp but our handcart had flat tires. The two of us managed to get it in the back of the pickup in under 30 minutes.  It is amazing. When we got home I had to get it out of the pickup the next day. I thought I could just lift it out with the small tractor. Nope, not enough lifting height. I finally just had to grab it from the tailgate end and jerk it out while raising the tractor bucket. This left a divot in the ground a few inches deep. I did check the ground first to make sure there were no hard objects. I had to put it on the short side of the front porch for the same reason, not enough lift. We are still working on the combination issue. Surely there has to be a way to "crack" the safe by discovering the combination. We want to be able to use the safe. It will become an end table in the living room. 

We have a raccoon. Annmarie woke me up two nights running and the second night we had to get out of bed at 0330 and go hunt for whatever it was. I saw the raccoon but forgot to turn off safety on my trusty Walther. It's obviously time for more target shooting. I placed a trap baited with marshmallows but all the raccoon did was pull it down and toss the tasty treat into the dirt. Sarah came up with the idea of smearing peanut butter on the trigger plate of the trap. I am going to try that next. 

After all the work on the pickup it still needed tires. We tried to get used but nobody had four matching so we got cheap tires instead. They are still 10 ply sidewall so they can handle the trailer and load weight. I had to get a new front tire for the old tractor. The side facing South had rotted from sun exposure. Unsurprisingly, the lug nuts for each front tire were different sizes. I guess I should be grateful that they were the same size on each side. So mixing and matching cannot occur. 

Moving hay, maybe

Saturday was the day to start picking up hay. I invited Mr.Red Shirt to come along. He was already injured so I figured he was safe. We started out by finding the pickup location and getting loaded. The plan was to start with large bales then move to small bales. There were 28 large bales to move. My trailer will only hold 6 bales at a time. I had a heck of a time unloading the trailer. Some bales would lift others I tried to tear up. Some got pushed as they would not lift. On a plus note, I figured out the fuel tank will hold 10 gallons and the fuel gauge jumps to 3/4 tank indicator. We went back quit a bit later and got load two. Mr Red Shirt would direct me so I was trying to grab the bale with a level set of hooks. I sliced up the strings on one bale because the hook actuator has a hang up and you have to rapidly bump it to get it to fully engage and disengage. This time the tractor died, behaving as if it ran out of fuel despite the ten gallons that had just been put into it that morning. Mr Red Shirt called a buddy to look at it while I went to get another load. It had a "vapor lock" and worked just fine. Come to find out the reason I could not move large bales was operator error!  The hooks only go one direction so there is a metal wall on the tractor side of the grapple.  That wall must be placed directly against the end of the bale so the hooks push the bale into the wall. Who knew?!  With the magical vapor lock gone and direction from Mr Red Shirt on angle placement I got the whole trailer unloaded. We did a total of six trips. Eventually, his Captain called and he went on another mission. I left the last load on the trailer so that Annmarie and I could go to the movies. I would whip that out in the morning and start the process all over again. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tractor hates me

I am sure this will be a love/hate relationship. I am going to love hating the old tractor. I tried to get it started on Friday again.  It would not start!  It turns over great, the new battery is doing its job. I tried throughout the day, three times with no success. I even brought Annmarie out to see if she knew something I didn't, still no luck. So I spent the day cleaning out the rest of the barn lot and removed all the animal poop from the lamb shed with my John Deere. 
I was frustrated we had just paid someone to come out to tell me I was an idiot and the tractor still would not start. While in the shower it occurred to me that the repairman had filled the old tractor with fuel from the wood shed. This was fuel for the lawnmower and could be a year old. I had asked around and had someone coming out to help me take a look at it when I figured I should drain out the old fuel and put in 92 octane instead. So I went out with two gas cans and took off the glass bowl filter chamber and realized that no fuel was leaking. The repairman had left the fuel shutoff valve closed!!  After spilling a pint of fuel on me I managed to get the glass bowl back on and the tractor started. I grabbed one large bale of hay and took it out to the cows. This was a request. The bale dropped three times. I was told that using the hay hooks on large bales doesn't always work. They cannot hold on. Happier now I went back in and cleaned up. 

Saturday I went out to move all the old bales out of the machine shop. I got the first one that was right on the ground. I dropped it twice. Next I have two rows stacked four high. I could not get the hooks to go into the top of the bale so I could lift it up. I tried twice then backed the tractor out and tried again. One of the problems with this old farmhand arrangement is lack of direct line of sight. The equipment is blocking your view. I thought I had the hook platform horizontal and ended up breaking out a 2x8 and 4x6 cross support beam out of the ceiling. It was over before I realized what had happened. I then tried to pull the bales over but I could only find one hook!  I lost my other hay hook.  So then I climbed up on top of the bales and tried to push the top two bales off without success. I finally gave up. We need to get those long spears made for the tractor so I can move the big bales. This will necessitate another trip to the metal fabrication shop plus a request for a quick turnaround time. I need to get hay as soon as Roundup is over. I also need a weight box for the back of the tractor with a few hundred pounds of weight in it. This is good news as we had researched new tractors and were looking at $28k for a set up to move hay. I am guessing but I think after repair work and fabrication and tires we will be close to $5k. Still a much better deal. We also need new front tires for the old tractor. The sidewalls are rotten and coming off in 1/4 inch chunks.  It won't be long before they blow out. I took pictures and will get them on order tomorrow. 

We have no pickup and trailer for this week. Annmarie asked me a few months ago if she could loan them out for the dress up parade during Roundup. I agreed without really understanding what I was agreeing to. So I have had to get all new brakes installed on the pickup. The pickup now has a brand new muffler. I cleaned out the pickup, probably the first time since we had bought it. It took me most of a day. We have new seat covers and floor mats in the pickup also. The trailer needed repairs as I had broken out the tail light holders and broken the license plate holder and broken the ramp holder lock. I took the trailer to our local metal repair shop and they welded supports into the tire wells, welded on running boards on the back half of the trailer so that when I hit something the trailer will just slide off. No more hooking the light boxes. They welded new light boxes on and moved the spare tire holder forward to the front half of the trailer. A new ramp holder was welded in just behind the tires accessible from one side with a pin lock. No way for me to drag it off when the trailer drags bottom when I am driving it through the creek or out in a field. The only thing left for the pickup is new tires, but I don't want to spend $850 -$1k for tires on a vehicle that gets less than 3k miles a year on it. My name is on the list for a set of used tires. There is a slight shake still at highway speed. I am unsure if it's due to the tires or if it is from the brake job or it just needs a front end alignment. I don't know and until I get new tires and do the front end alignment I will not be able to narrow it down. 

I owe an apology to Annmarie's father, Ted. He had knocked out part of the back wall of the machine shed with this old tractor. I thought this was just his illness making it harder for him to control the beast. After breaking two boards on my first attempt I now realize he had better control while ill than I do now. There is a definite learning curve. I am currently on the steep upward slope. 

Friday, September 1, 2017


I want it known that I had just worked all night and was trying to sleep on Monday when the tractor repair man came out. I realize that I had called on Friday for the repair but I feel that this incident should be given some leeway in its interpretation. I freely admit that I am new to this farm life thing and I have never before driven any old tractor. I freely admit that I am not a mechanic. These revelations should be taken into account when the reader reviews my actions. 
present the above picture as my defense. Can you honestly say you know where the gas cap is located?  I choose to believe that it is not that easy. Bottom line when the repair man came out the tractor was out of fuel!  He came back to the house and requested fuel. He was given a five gallon gas can and proceeded to fill the tank. The black cap nearest to the steering wheel is the actual fuel cap. I did not know this. He finished hooking up the hay grapple and testing it. I drug myself out of bed and went out to meet him to discuss all the operations of the tractor. We are already paying for a farm visit so I might as well get as much out of it as possible. I had him go over every little switch and lever to show me what did what. This turned out to be necessary as the power pto hydraulic lever was not getting engaged. So the hydraulics do work they are just slow without engaging the power pto. I would have thought it was just slow all the time. There is a small leak in the power pto device but I was informed if we tore it apart it would probably need a rebuild and parts would be almost impossible to find. So it looks great as is!  AnnMarie is rubbing this in every few days. The repairman got a good laugh out of it. Thankfully, the "fuel cap" I opened was the radiator cap and it was full of water so I did not put fuel into the coolant system!!  To top it all off AnnMarie was right!  It was out of gas. Since he was here I asked him to order a power disconnect switch. I will install it on the side of the tractor and to disconnect the battery you just turn the switch.   I will be moving the bales this upcoming weekend. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Damn tractor

I spent all day Friday with the new old tractor, the International. It was supposed to be a pleasant day. The tractor was running before I forgot to remove the negative terminal and allowed the battery to die.  The battery was charged in the old house and ready to go. I just needed to hook up the hay grapple and I could move the old hay and get the machine shop ready for new fodder. 
I installed the battery and could not get the tractor to start. This necessitated a trip to Pendleton to pick up a new battery. I bought the largest highest amperage RV/Boat battery I could find!  I returned home and installed it. It barely fit but with some pounding and jostling I managed to get it in place. 
The tractor started!  I was happy, now I just needed to get the hay grapple attached. Before moving the tractor I decided to try out the hydraulics for the grapple. Yep, the only hydraulic connections they did not check was leaking. I took a picture and drove to Pendleton, unbeknownst to me a picture is not worth a 1000 words when trying to get a common fitting for a 60 year old tractor. So I had to drive back home and attempt to remove the part. Nope, I needed an open end wrench of 1 1/16 inch size. I had to stop at my parents and borrow my dad's tools. I still think of them that way even if they are mine now. I went back to Pendleton again and asked for the part. They didn't have one!  Luckily, their competition did and I only had to wait 30 minutes for it to be transported to their shop. I installed it. 
No more leak present. I started the tractor and managed to get the pieces for the grapple lined up and had to shut down multiple times to get every part in place. 
I had one pin to attempt to get in place when the tractor refused to start. It turned over but wouldn't fire up. AnnMarie hollered from the front porch that it was out of gas. I checked by opening gas tank cap, and it was full. The gas gauge does not work. No go, I could not get the beast started. I put in a call to the tractor repair place and they will call me first thing Monday morning. It should work. I want them to come out to the farm. It cost me $250 to have it transported round trip last time. I am betting a farm call is cheaper than that. I am going to try it one more time on Sunday. 

One of the 90 degree fittings was cracked. 

Another day on the farm

I had the brothers out today. I had gotten up early to make sourdough waffles. The sourdough was prompted by us buying a new crock for our sourdough at a recent yard sale. This idea was nixed once we figured out our current crock had kept the sourdough in great shape with no mold with us ignoring the batter for a solid year. So I added more flour and water and left it out on the countertop to use in the morning. I got up early so I could make sourdough waffles. I had the waffle iron out and was attempting to find a recipe when I realized I should of done the recipe the night before. We have an entire shelf of old cookbooks. There is a lot of material to sift through. I found one that substituted the milk for sourdough starter. I followed this recipe but it was for pancakes not waffles. Unfortunately, I followed the recipe and ended up with bread dough. I had to add about a cup of milk to get the consistency correct. This means I needed a different cooking device. I could not find our electric griddle so I used the electric fryer. It's hard to turn pancakes in. They turned out good, definitely sourdough but a little heavy. Teenagers don't really care and add in a couple of chunks of ham and they were happy. They seemed hesitant to eat more till I told them the chickens get to eat all the leftover pancakes. 

The first item of the day was to sort off the cows. We have three young girls that need a few months away from the bull so they don't become teenage mothers. We shut and opened gates so the cows could be herded into the barn lot. The horses did not want to leave the barn lot so they got locked into the old lambing shed. They can watch everything from there. We walked up onto the back hillside with the dogs running all around. Once we got to the lower pasture we could see the cows on the bottom near the gate and the sheep low in the hillside ideal positioning to get the cows through leaving the sheep behind. I told the brothers we would stay up on the hill and the dogs would do all the work. I did preface this by saying Mouse was still a puppy and learning. He needs the off leash work to improve. What a mess!  I hollered. I cajoled. I brought the dogs back and told them cows not sheep. Mouse finally got locked onto the cows but every time I looked away he kept sneaking forward. Zeke was the real culprit, that damn dog ONLY wanted to chase the sheep. By this time he had already chased them up to the top of the hill and out of sight yet every time I sent him out to circle the cows he ran up the hill!  Twice I brought him back and made him look at the cows. We talked about cows. I pointed him to the cows while giving a voice command. He was not listening, more like totally ignoring everything I said or wanted him to do. This brought about a colorful oral tirade of high volume and duration. I had to jump the fence and walk out and direct the dogs from a nearby position. This took me almost 30 minutes to get the cows out of the lower pasture. My voice was hoarse and my throat sore. Unfortunately, I may have taught the brothers some variations of the English language they probably should not know. I had to choke down each dog a couple of times. There are times they make me crazy. They are so pack driven as a pair that you must be at the top of the food chain or they think they are in charge and do whatever they want. It makes me crazy. Yet when they figure it out and do what they are supposed to it's a breeze to move any of the animals. 
We got the cows in and sorted. Our new yard fence caused the corral gate opening to get about an inch bigger. The gate no longer latches. I figured this out while trying to sort cows. We got the bull and a few heifers away from the little girls. The little girls and their mommas are in the barn lot with the horses. Unfortunately this only puts one fence between them. I need to add a 50 yard section to the lower hillside so the bull will have double fencing separarating him from the teenage girls. This will have to happen in the spring. I will never be able to drive any T posts into the ground until then. 
As a side note Sunday morning we were looking at the cows out our kitchen window and AnnMarie asks me if that baby belonged out on the hillside. "Of course" was my instant reply. Guess who forgot that we now have a working gate by the horse feeders which was open and the gate leading into the ram pasture was open and the ram pasture fence is still down and cut up. So all the cows are back together again and need to be sorted yet again!  Some lessons are painful. 

We then moved into the barn to finish getting it ready. The brothers spread out the old hay all over the floor to use as straw. All the tools were moved into the milking area. The dogs were in the milking area trying to harass the kittens. Mouse was digging under the walkway and Zeke was trying to enlarge the hole along the back wall  I had just made for the cats. We found some scrap wood and screwed it onto the wall to create a cat sized opening that the dogs could not expand. We also cut a 2x10 to create a face on the walkway so when I clean it out with the tractor I don't push the mess under the walkway. This also gives another protected spot for the feral cats to hide. We have two feral fixed cats living in the barn. We are going to start housing them. Two weeks for two cats in a pen fed and watered them turned loose in the barn to live. We feed the cats in the barn daily. We need to get a handle on our mice population. 
The pallet stairs for side door are complete and we took away the rope door tie and installed an actual metal gate latch. 

We spent almost 1.5 hours just putting tools away and cleaning up. I even put all the tools away in the old house!  
It was hot and I was thirsty so when one of the brothers asked about the mini fridge I opened it up to show him it was just for extra egg storage. Low and behold there was a cold Gatorade in there!   I cracked that open and half of it down before someone asked me how old it was, 2012!  I polished off the second half in 15 seconds, smacked my lips and stated 2012 was a great year. No illness has occurred in the drinking of this expired beverage. I am thinking about stashing more drinks in this mini fridge! 
Usually the tools make it inside the door in a big pile. I am still missing my cordless drill but I am pretty sure I broke it early this summer. The barn is rough on tools. I need to order another one. 
We did a bunch of little projects.  We installed a new latch board with two holes so the corral is back in service. We covered three gates with wire panels so the sheep and baby cows cannot slip through the gates. 
We picked up an entire trash can full of loose hay string from all over the farm. 
We also removed our wooden trash can enclosure door and straightened the bottom hinge. It had gotten torqued in a wind storm several years ago. 

We installed a 3.5 inch ABS pipe downspout on the barn and then applied random sizes of wood in various locations to protect it from the horses. I am hopeful that this will stop 80% of the mud formed in the back alley way. 
We did go check on the plums in the upper prime pasture they are really close to being done. I suspect 4-7 days is all I that is needed. 

The boys ate Italian sausages on ciabatta bread with a plum for lunch. Good thing I had the 12 pack of sausages. I cannot even imagine what it is like to feed five teenage boys!! 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Yard fencing

Zeke had still been getting out of the yard!  Despite all the new fencing we have installed next to the barn lot. The last real section of yard fencing that needs to be replaced is behind one of our large front trees. I decided to just use cow panels as I had quite a few extra. Unfortunately, I just needed to find time to do it. Last weekend was Pilot Rock Community Days so we spent the morning hitting all the yard sales. We went to over 24 sales before noon.  We did not find any old glass marbles. I still need about 1.5 gallons to finish filling my display. We did find some cool old things that can be repurposed. We found a board with three mounted brass horse shaped hooks for $3.00. We removed the hooks and I replaced the plain brass hooks in our laundry room with horse hooks. We also scored some more laying hens!  One of the locals, our old telephone guy (who had to repair the buried line multiple times in our yard), saw us and said his adult child had purchased chicks at Easter and now had four adult chickens that needed a new home. All four of the hens were laying eggs so they would be productive immediately. 

We have lost 11 chickens to some unknown predator. No feathers and no bodies. They just vanish. Our working theory is it is a type of large bird or chicken thieves. Since we have been back from vacation no birds have disappeared. We were down to 13 hens and two of those are very broody so we are only getting 5-6 eggs/day. We were selling almost seven plus dozen a week. Now we are selling two dozen a week only. We had to tell all our regular customers that we are mostly out of the egg business for a while.  They brought the hens over and the hens have been attempting to integrate themselves ever since. 

I had decided that the rest of the fencing could not be delayed any longer as I was tired of Zeke gettting out. So on Sunday I ripped all of the offending section of fence out almost 60 feet. Once I got the fence out I used the tractor to drag the fence line clear. I also needed to drag out the old large dead branches that have been there the last seven years. 

I used the tractor to level out the area. This seemed simple but the tree roots kept getting in the way. I had to break out an axe and chop through three different roots. About half way through the leveling process I uncovered a hole!  A four inch iron pipe was sticking into a 12 inch round hole. I tried to see the bottom of the hole with my cell phone flashlight and could not see the bottom!  I dropped a piece of concrete from an old fence into the hole and it disappeared. I kept dropping concrete and dirt into the hole until I was able to get a dirt surface. It has disappeared but I am uncertain why the hole was there and what it did and how deep it was. It may appear at some time in the future. 

I strung a line across the posts and drive in T posts every 8 feet. I then placed cow panels across them. I attached them to the T posts and wired the ends together. The fence looks good! Now we will see if Zeke can get out. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Barn ready for winter!

The Padawan returned the next morning on Sunday. He again had cereal for breakfast and was fed egg scramble with potatoes, onions and sidepork. He ate it all, no hot chocolate for him but I had two cups of coffee. He was itching to get out to the barn and finish the feeders. I had done all of the board cutting and had him assemble all the pieces on the wall with occasional help and lots of verbal direction. If it was wrong or loose I just had him undo and redo it. It's a barn and we are reusing scraps and old wood. This just adds more character to the building. We had to start using several pieces instead of one piece as I was running out of long boards. Once the Padawan finished the feeders I had him dig in the second story of the barn for my leftover tongue and groove board I had used on the main floor. We needed to add a new floor to one of the hay rooms. The boards had broken and it was a safety hazard. I cut the boards and then had him screw them down. We had to float three pieces together then screw down one, add a new one etc. you have to do it this way or else you cannot add the new board. The tongue and groove will warp when you tightened the first board down. Leaving two free floating allows you to counteract this problem. While he screwed down the floor I worked on adding another board to the momma and baby area. They can still jump out!  The problem with this is the grain bin lever. You need to be able to reach it to open the gate. A higher enclosure would block access to the handle. My solution was pure brilliance, I reused one of the jug gates!!  I also stiffened the enclosure. 

I also fixed the sorting chute. The sheep kept jumping over the ends of the smaller chute section. I added a heavy wire panel over these bolted in place to bounce them back into the chute should they attempt to jump out. I used some scrap panels, scrap wood and an old metal grounding strip plus new bolts. I don't have a good selection of old bolts. Most of the old nails and bolts I sent out with scrap metal. It was too hard to keep track of them and they needed to be sorted. I had no time for that. 

We also set up our new corral system as a hay enclosure. Our large bales that don't fit in the machine shop will live outside. I think I can only fit 15 ton in the machine shop. 

We had lunch at 1216 today. The Padawan remembered and was rewarded with more food. Ham and cheese sandwiches again. 

Supposed to be fencing

It has happened again, I have started with another teenager. I had told his mother we would fence but by the time he arrived last Saturday morning I had changed my mind. I had managed to get the outside fence secured so the animals are not escaping. I really want to enclose the new upper prime squared area but it will take me 40-60 hours to complete that fencing. That is a huge time commitment for four acres. Instead, I voted on actually getting ready for winter. The young Padawan was dropped off at 0645 with his father apologizing for the early drop off. I told him no problem and did not tell him I usually make them start at 0500-0530 during the summer. The Padawan is only 14 so he cannot drive. 
I drug him inside the house and asked him what he had for breakfast, "cereal" was the succinct answer. I was cooking breakfast as I had expected him at 0700.  We were having fried side pork and fresh farm eggs cooked in same grease pool pan that the pork was cooked in. He denied hunger. I went on the presumption that he was a teenage boy and can eat any time no matter how soon a meal was completed. He drank hot chocolate while I finished. He didn't know what side pork was and he picked gingerly at his two eggs upon their sudden arrival in front of him. AnnMarie asked me if I had asked him if he even wanted food. I gave her the look "he is a teenage boy".  He tried the pork and eggs. By the time I finished my breakfast he had consumed all the food in front of him. He was very polite and even offered to rinse off his own dishes. AnnMarie gave him the requisite speech about making me stop for lunch when he got hungry or else we would work all day with no lunch! 

We went outside to knock down the tumbleweeds in our driveway. I asked him if he knew how to drive. He stated yes. I got into the passenger seat as a precaution. I was hollering for him to push the break in the first five seconds of vehicle movement. He was turning into the car parallel to the pickup. Next was teaching him to actually look over his shoulder when backing up not just saying a Hail Mary prayer and going for it!  This concept took quite a bit of prompting almost as only using the right foot for the gas and brake. He managed to get the pickup over to the burn pile without adding a new dent.  On the plus side, between the numerous dents, dings and peeling paint I am not sure a new one would be noticed. I finished dragging weeds over to the burn pile with the tractor while the Padawan walked around picking up hay bale strings. We tossed loose scrap wood onto the burn pile also. I tasked him with parking the pickup back near our other vehicle. I did encourage him to hit the brake and not crunch through my fence and down into the front creek when parking. He did fine. The farm pickup is no worse for meeting him. 

We went into the barn to get ready for winter. Since we will have another 21 sheep we needed more feeder space. We had agreed that the jugs needed to come out as we were using the momma/baby area instead of the jugs. We had lumber stacked on the jugs and had started to dissemble by the time I remembered to take a starting picture. The goal as always is to reuse as much as possible. I saved the intact gates. Those had come from the old lamb shed. A gate is hard to make and harder to make one that will last 40 years so I just store them for use in later projects. They are "barn ready and tested" which is vital when you actually use them. We got the jugs totally disassembled and then started building the wall feeders. I just build stuff!!  No plans just an idea in my head and then I just keep digging through the scrap piles to make old pieces usable again. I taught the Padawan how to use an impact driver. I only swapped out six new drivers the first day!!  He did remember lunch. We were inside by 1230 eating ham and cheese sandwiches. 
We finished after an 8 hour day and he was disappointed we had not finished and moved onto fencing. I chuckled and told him we were close and had accomplished more than I thought we would.  He seemed excited to come back the next day to finish up the project!  He is also the only teenager I have had help me who could read a tape measure and knew what was a T square. Bonus points for the Padawan!