Tuesday, May 11

Lost dog

It's been four days since we last saw Gelleon, and I'm starting to loose hope that he'll come back.  He always had a bad habbit for sneaking off the farm, but he usually came home within a few hours.  He's never met a stranger and anyone willing to acknowledge him was instantly his best friend.

I never knew exactly where he went or why, some of our neighbors had reported seeing him in the past but it was never that far away.  This time though I'm afraid he has gone to far.  I like to think that some family found him and decided to keep him since he's so friendly and love-able and he always managed to loose his collar but I'm sick to think what else could have happened to him.

Another neighbor told us that someone else recently lost a dog, that it was just gone one day.  Someone else in the community told us a sickening rumor that some local punks were shooting "stray" dogs.  If I ever learned who these future serial killers might be....  I'm not sure I would be able to contain my needs for justice.

I keep hoping that he'll return home.  I miss my boy.

Update: Gelleon is home, safe, and healthy.  The story of his absence and return is complicated and unpleasant, however.  Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and positive thoughts!

Sunday, May 9

Hay storage

I counted wrong, and will have to make another trip to the big box hardware store for more 1x4s to complete the project pictured.  Having goats and only 10 acres means handling hay, and since we don't own a tractor to move round bales easily (we do own a bale spike trailer, more on that in another blog post), we rely on "square" bales.  

The bales aren't really square, technically, I guess they're a rectangular prism if I remember my elementary school geometry lesson.  If done right they're about 1 1/2' by 1 1/2' by 3' in length.  I say "right" because the length can vary based on the settings of the baler used.  With the dimensions I mentioned as "right" they'll stack nicely in layers running 90 degrees to the layer below it and squarely fit on top of each other.  

In any case, having square bales means a proper place to store them.  What that has meant up until now is any dry location we could find (the old barn and the shop building) was game for storing hay.  We would throw pallets down and devise a way to keep the animals out and use that for hay storage.  The pallets served to keep the hay off the ground and allow some airflow under them.  Unfortunately it made for inefficient stacking as the ground we placed the pallets on was never level and no matter how hard we tried to stack them it was always a little haphazard especially after you started pulling some off the stack.

That's where the project in the photo above comes in.  I've constructed this in the south west corner of our new barn, I'm calling it the hay deck.  It's positioned right next to the 10' wide door which should allow us to back the flat bed right in next to the hay deck for unloading and stacking.  If you've ever hauled hay you know that it's a dirty dusty business that no one enjoys.  In the past it would involve us throwing the bales off the trailer on the ground then picking them up and moving them to the stack.  With this set up it should make it less of a chore.  With a nice level surface we should be able to tightly stack 150 bales in this space.

I think the hay deck will work pretty well and as an added benefit I finally get the entire shop as actual workshop space when the hay has it's final home.  I'm looking forward to that, as I've collected quite a set of tools (and the skills to use them) over the years.  I remember 9 or 10 years ago buying my first cordless drill (when I bought my first home).  I had no idea back then the path I would be on now. In today's project I made use of several of these tools including:

  • tool belt - I use this on every project, I just load it up with the hand tools I'll be using on the project and it's always right with me.  I've blogged about my tool belt before.
  • hammer
  • 3' level
  • line level
  • chalk line
  • cordless drill
  • air compressor - now that there is power in all the outbuildings, this is coming in real handy for:
    • air nailer - it makes quick work of fastening things together
    • impact driver - I used it to drive 1/2" by 6" long lag bolts through the ledger board into the 6x6 posts of the barn
  • tri-vise lumber lok - I got this today and thought I would try it out, it indeed made on person board cutting much safer and effective.

So far in the barn I've also wired up exterior lights but it still needs stalls, interior overhead lights, stall lights, and ultimately a concrete pad under a new feed room.  There's always plenty to do on the weekends, and plenty of ways to use my toys, er, tools...

Sunday, May 2

Less blogging, more doing

When the weather gets nice it's hard for me to carve out time to write blog posts, but I know I'll be sorry if I don't attempt to document progress as we go along.  I took this photo from the deck while I relaxed for a brief moment.  The backfilling is complete though we still have a pile of excess sand.  The guy that was doing our dirt work said sand is too expensive just to spread around and I should try to find a use for it.  It just so happens I'll be building some walk way soon so I'll try to use it then.

You can see the completed green house in the photo, our new goose-neck trailer for hauling goats around, the F350 for pulling said trailer and other trailers, the new barn, our trusty explorer, the pedal car, and one of our portable goat barns (that is still half-painted).

The greenhouse is working great, we've sold quite a few heirloom tomato plants with an ad on craigslist.  The only thing I'm not happy with in the greenhouse is the thermostat.  It seems to turn the fans on at the right temperature but it will never shut them off even when the ambient temperature cools below the on point.  I think the amount of current that I am drawing through the thermostat is too much. It's a simple attic-fan thermostat and it seems to be generating it's own heat which throws off the measurement.  I need to find something better and soon.

The horse trailer was a recent acquisition.  Jennifer did some trading and we got rid of a cargo trailer that we hadn't used for over a year.  Now we have our own trailer to haul the goats around and don't have to bother the neighbors.  The week Jennifer bought it she took 3 of our goats to a two-day goat show in Sedalia, MO.  She won three second place ribbons and one first place ribbon.  I hope to go with her in the near future to a show and help out.

The barn now has it's sand floor and I've already started on the inside.  I wired up exterior lighting this weekend and this week (after work) I plan on sinking posts for the hay "deck."  We will use one corner of the barn to store hay but I don't want to mess with pallets to store the hay on and keep it off the ground so I'll build a deck of sorts to have a nice level surface to tightly pack square bales.  In another corner of the barn we'll pour a concrete pad for a feed room.  I also plan on visiting the habitat for humanity "reStore" to see if I can find some inexpensive lights to put to use in the barn.

All and all there's quite a bit of progress shaping up.  I was telling a friend the other day that we finally have the infrastructure in place to make chores fast and projects easier...  Things like having power in all the outbuildings removes a huge psychological barrier for me such that I can get started and finish projects much quicker.