Thursday, March 15, 2018

Greenhouse Finally Started

Exactly 1 year after when we originally going to start building the greenhouse, it has finally happened.

This isn't going to be a fast build, but the target date to have it finished is May 1. That is 6 weeks out so if the weather is good, we should make it.

Today, I got the first post set.  All my other posts will square up to this one.  It may be the only post set his week as we are supposed to get storms and rain the next 2 to 3 days, but its a start.  I have 9 more to go.

So, in a nutshell, I am building this pretty  much by myself at this point.  I have some days off this week and my husband doesn't.  But, since the post hole digger is on the back of the tractor and the front loader is on the front, I can get it started.

 There is a knack to using a bale spike to get it upright.  It took me a few minutes to figure it out.  As I raised the post the end of the post over the hole wanted to shift, so I had to slowly move the tractor forward as I raised the loader.  Now that I got that figured out, the rest will go much quicker.

The posts I am using are 6x6 posts and very heavy.  These are the posts that were used to build our barn that the tornado hit.  When the builder rebuilt it, he knew I was wanting to build the greenhouse and set the ones that could be salvaged aside.  He also set some tin aside as well, to use for the bottom 36 inches all the way around.  I am doing the bottom in tin, so that if the mower throws a rock, it won't break out the clear panels, and also, to help offset the cost.  That will save me from having to buy 6 of the clear panels. 

Most are of the posts are way too long for this project and they are all different lengths.  After I get the poles set, and start on the roof, we will trim them off with the chain saw.  That way, when I am off work I can still work on this.  If I wait for my husband to cut them down first, I will have to wait for his next day off when it is not raining. and since the forecast is scheduling rain on his next day off, it would be another 10 days before I could start.  So, that part I am doing somewhat backwards.  Since they are different lengths, we will wait until the final post is set to determine the height.  The front will be taller than the back, and I want at least a 30 degree rise in the roof.  The back side will have guttering which will divert the rain into a rain barrel that I bought several years ago.

This is the basic plan I am using.  The tall side will face the front.  I am not putting the roof vents on.  Instead, each short side will have a small window to open for cross ventilation.  The front (taller side) will have 2 doors centered (double doors).  They have a glass front and came out of an old store front in downtown Lawson.  They are antique doors.

I opted to use the clear panels from Lowe's rather than recycling glass windows.  We get a lot of wind here, and the glass just would not last.  Also, I have been using mypoints and swagbucks for earning Lowe's gift cards, so I won't have to pay in full for the panels.

I also want a deck on the front side and a clear panel roof (awning) over the deck.  That may have to be stage 2 as I would like to build the deck out of pallets and I will first need to get those.

Stage 3 will be to get electric and a hydrant put in the greenhouse.  That will probably be a project for next year.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Signs of Spring

The temperatures have been warming up.  Canadian geese have arrive and as every year, they stay for about a week to rest up before flying on north.  They stay on our ponds and like to glean last years corn fields.

But, the best sign our trees are starting to bud.  These are the same trees that 2 weeks ago were covered in a quarter inch of ice.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Product Review: Westinghouse Tankless Water Heater

In the past 12 months, we have had to replace several appliances (on top of the tornado damages.)  New refrigerator, new clothes dryer (not really necessary normally, but the husband and I both had major surgery last fall, and for about a 5 month period, neither of us could lift.  Replacing the dryer made it much easier on us than hanging the laundry.)

The last disaster, was our hot water heater.  We found a small leak shortly before we left for a trip.  So, my husband turned it off.  This was during a very cold snap.  When we came back, a week later, he went downstairs to relight it.  Instead he found a flood.  It was the original hot water tank from when my husband built the house, back in the early 90's.  So, it lasted well beyond its expected life span.  It went out with a fight however.  Evidently when she went, she sent water sprays every direction, including up along the vent through the wall.  That water, then ran back down, and onto the office ceiling.  So, now we will need to replace sheet rock in the office and repaint.

We started doing our research on hot water heaters and decided to go tankless.  We settled on a Westinghouse 11.5 gpm propane unit.  So far, we love it.  It hangs on the wall, takes up much less space than the old monster tank did.  We had a local plumber install it for us.  According to the information provided by Westinghouse and our propane dealer , it is an energy saver unit and should cut our operating costs in about in half.  It was slightly more expensive, in the $900 range before taxes and shipping. It went on sale, bringing it down to $800.  The Missouri Propane Association has a rebate plan and we will get $200 back on that.  After all that is said and done, the price came out to the same price as buying another tank.

It would take the water less time to reach the faucets if we had put it on the main floor (we are in a 3 story house), but we decided to put it in the basement.  Per code, it has to be mounted against an exterior wall.  It was a lot less work to put it in this unfinished part of the basement than it would be had we put it elsewhere.  We chose an area right below the path of the gas line and waterlines.

It takes the hot water about 90 seconds to reach the main floor, and around 2 minutes to reach the top floor.  But, once you use it the first time of the day, it seems to take less time thereafter.  It is louder, but we only noticed the noise the first couple of weeks.  Now, we don't.  We are planning on building a cabinet around it, and we will insulate the cabinet, then the noise will not be noticeable.  The noise only runs when the burners are on, and the burners only kick on when we run more than 3/4 of a gallon of water from the hot faucet.

It has a digital display screen on it, and is easy to change the temperature on--with the old one, we had to get on the floor and turn a hard to read knob. 

It will need to be flushed once a year.  Some people complain about that--but if you read on a regular tank hot water heater, they are also supposed to be flushed once a year.  Our plumber said next year, he will come flush it and teach us how.  After that, we can do it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ice Storm 2018

Monday night we were hit with sleet and  ice.  It  kept coming down for about 10 hours.  As a result, there was no school yesterday.  Last Friday we  had no school due to teachers workday and Monday was  Presidents Day.  On Wednesdays, my building doesn't have class so my kiddos won't be back to school until hopefully tomorrow (Thursday) IF we don't get more ice, which the weatherman says we might.....

As a result of the ice, many were without power, phones, and such.  There were also many auto accidents.

We had no phones or internet, as our internet comes in through satellite, and our satellite dish was filled with ice, and our phones run of of our internet because AT&T has bad service in our area, as well as most of the other carriers we have tried.  Thats one of the joys of living in the country.

These are some pictures I took yesterday and this morning.

This last picture makes it look very gloomy and hazy outside.  It was actually like this for a few hours.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Gates

This winter we did have a few (very few) warmer days.  We had an area where we had 2 fence panels up separating 2 pastures.  For 2 years we have been saying we were going to put a couple of gates up in that spot.  The cows have constantly knocked it down, and we keep wiring it back up.  I finally had enough of it, and we had a warm day so we went and got 2 gates.  It took us a couple hours to get them up.

I knew as soon as the cows figured out what we were doing they would be upset....I was right.  It is very thick with clover on that side and they like to get over there.  One by one they had to come inspect what we were doing.
 This bull (Junior) was the first to inspect.  Almost in disbelief as he just stood and stared at the project for the longest time.  Cows are actually a very intelligent animal, and it did not take him long to figure out what was happening.

 Soon a few more came to inspect.  For awhile we wondered if they were plotting to overtake us...

The finished product.  The tractor, mower, baler and trailer will still be able to fit through this gate.  Later in the spring we will put a blade on  the tractor and come down to level out the ground under the gate. The right side of the gate is further off the ground due to how the ground has washed away.  A few passes with the blade on the tractor will take care of that.  Cows can not get through it, but a preemie calf might be able to.  The gate is securely latched to keep it closed.  Cattle are pretty good at opening gates and also at lifting up the handle on hydrants to turn the water on.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Valentine Present

Meet Miss Socks Valentino.

Socks arrived on Valentines Day in the morning.  She is the most lively calf I have ever had.  She is always moving.  Even when she is nursing, her tail is swishing back and forth.  She has 4 white socks, white belly and white on the tip of her tail.  She also has a white patch on the top of her head that is longer than the surrounding black fur  and it tends to stick straight up in the air.

Socks was a surprise, as I did not think she was due for another month.  My other shorthorn was larger than this ones momma, and I thought she would calve first.  Now, I am wondering if the other one may possibly be having twins.  I hope not, as they usually tend to be free-martins, which I don't want.  Free-Martins is when twins are born and one is male and one is female.  In this case, the twins share the placental membranes and as a result, the female is sterile.  If both calves are male or both are female, is ok.  But, one of each results in a sterile female.  The female calf also tends to have more male characteristics.  I guess thats ok if you want them for the deep freeze, but if you are wanting to build up your herd, its not good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Where are we??

I have received 2 messages, asking if we were ok and where I am.

I am still here, its just been a bad year in some respects, and not much time left to blog.

Husband had surgery at the beginning of the year, then we had the tornado, he had some more surgeries (it was a series of surgeries, could not all be done at once).  Then he had an injury, and more surgery for that, then I had major surgery at the end of October.  My surgery was actually 4 things, all fixed at the same time, 2 of them considered major and I am still off work from mine.  Most likely I will be returning to work sometime in December or January.  Right now I have my days and nights backwards, my hemoglobin is still low so I take several cat naps during the day.

For an update, daughter #4 is back from her deployment, and back at her duty station.  She is my Army daughter.  Daughter #5 is now away from home for the Navy.  #3 changed careers and went thru a state academy and is now in law enforcement.  #1 and #2 remain as they were, same homes and jobs as they had before my blogging "drop out"

As a result of our recent surgeries, we opted to have a small Thanksgiving.  I am not up to long travels yet, so we had it here at home.  Only 2 of the kids were here, but we also had our parents, an uncle, sister in law and a niece and nephew.

On the flip side, its also been a good year.  I have a new niece, and shortly after she was born, one of her older sisters got married.  (yes, you read that right...  My brother has 6 kids ranging from 6 months to 21--they are: 6 months, 13, two that are 18 and two that are 21, and none are twins.  Yet, we have 2 sets of twins..... 

So, there you have most of our year in a nut shell.  And, I will try to do better at blogging.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I Fixed the Mower!!!

My husband has been laid up the last few months.  So, I have been doing all the farm work--fence repairs, working with cattle, working in the barn, mowing, cutting trees....  Needless to say, a good part of it I have done before and a good part of it has been a learning curve.

I have always done the mowing....and the breaking of the mower.  But, he has always done the repairs on the mower.  Until this time.  Last week I just started to mow.  As usual, the lab comes out and thinks he has to lead the way of the mower.  So, to humor him, I followed.  We cut a few crazy patterns in the yard  (I don't know, maybe he was trying to cut his name in the grass).  Then the mower stops, with a loud bang.  The tractor still runs, but no mower.  I look down and the belt is off.  Further investigation reveals the bolt that holds one of the 7 pulleys on has broken.

So, the pilot daughter and I head into the city to Lowe's.  We got a new bolt and nut (that was an adventure in itself.  New kid working, had no idea bolts "came in metric" or how they were sized....

Today, I got it the broken part put back together and went to get the pulley back on. Even though I had a diagram to go by, it wasn't easy.  I had to watch two different places at once and hold the belt on 6 of the 7 pulleys at once, and push a nosy lab with bad breath out of the way.  To replace the belt  requires 9 hands and 2 heads.  I only have 2 hands and 1 head.  Childbirth was easier.  Finally, I got it back on and pulled the tension rod back.  Still had slack.  Too much slack.  Further investigation revealed that the diagram I was looking at (on the back of a package for a new belt) wasn't right.  The belt fit 2 different models of mowers.  The diagram was of the other mower.  It took me another 5 minutes to figure it out and another 20 to get it back off and back on the correct way.  When I said childbirth was easier, I meant that.  And, I have had twins.  Birthing twins was easier.

All for a broken $2 bolt.

But it worked.  Saved about $250 (what the shop I called wanted to do it--but I will admit, they would have earned every penny of it).  And, I got about 2 hours of mowing in.  Eight more hours of mowing and then I get to start all over.  Yes, it takes 10-12 hours to mow our  place.

Tomorrow, I am going to send an email to the manufacturer.  This mower is less than a year old, and only has a little over 100 hours on it.  This should not have broke.

Burning Hay

Ever evening that it is not raining, I work in the barn.  Even though the barn is now rebuilt, there remains a lot of work to do in it.  The hay that was stored in it was all ruined when the tornado hit.  It is now wet and moldy.  We could not remove it prior to the barn being rebuilt, as the damaged part was partly resting on top of what had been the pile of bales.  Rains and wind, reduced it to a pile of wet moldy hay.

So, when it is not too windy outside, I have been taking small loads of the hay out and burning it.  I also have been burning brush that is from the broken trees that we are still trimming.  It sure stinks up this corner of the county when I burn it.

Hard to tell that at one time, this pile was around 75 small square bales.  I don't think there is a single bale that is still intact.
It definitely puts out a lot of smoke when it is burned.

Hopefully this project will be finished in the next week.  I have a lot more to do in the barn, but this has to be done first.  Having wet hay in the barn is a fire hazard.  It is also in the way of getting the rest done.  At one time, it was partially blocking the door at the end, but that door is now usable again.  I have about 40% of it left.

Monday, July 24, 2017

She did her solo!

Daughter #5 finally got to solo today.  She has been trying to for quite some time, but where she goes to school they have had a lot of wind and stormy weather (much like we have had here at the farm).  This afternoon, she went and no birds nest in the engine, no wind gusts, no lightening, not to hot....perfect conditions to fly.  So, she did and she got her solo in.

She is also a military girl,  so she was glad to get this done before she leaves for the US Navy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We have a barn!!!!

You may remember from a previous post that the March tornado was not our friend.  Among the damage we had, was our barn.

At this point, the tractor was holding up the barn.  To remove the tractor a block and tackle had to be put in place.
Our county had so much damage that it took awhile to locate a contractor.  But, we found a good one, and he was local.
And, he started last week.  He did the demo work,  and framing, then we had to wait a few days for the metal to come in.
After the demo work.

Frame work

The metal is actually a perfect match in color.  It just looks different because it is so shiny and new.

Big barn door so we can get the big tractor back in the barn where it belongs.

Tomorrow, the electric co-op will come and set the electric meter back in place.  It was pulled after the tornado as we had live electrical wires everywhere.  The contractor has rewired and put in fixtures, but will come after the meter is in to ensure it all works.
Once I have lights in the barn, I will start cleaning it up.  Stuff is pretty much still where it landed.  Every time I went to the barn, I was hesitant to do much, as it moved when the wind blew and the roof was banging.  I feared it would come down on me.  And, with the end missing, wasn't really much point it moving too much as the wind would blow it around again.  So, clean up, then to install the security cameras and a couple more outside solar lights,and some stall work, and she will be done.

Now that all the damage is picked up, I can get around the barn to mow again. That will be a full days work.  We still have a load of metal to haul off as well.  We wanted to wait until it was gone in case we needed some of the old metal for patching.  Part of the old metal is going to be reused in another project.

We still need to replace the well house ( the old one also needs to be picked up and trashed-it is still under a tree where it landed).  Then, we want to make a hydrant house by the barn.

Not sure if we will get to the projects that were supposed to be this years projects before fall or not.  before the tornado hit, we were going to start on a green house in April and then our summer project was to be a lean to for the water tank.  The barn though did have some left over materials that will be put to use in the green house--part of the posts and some lumber for the framing.