Cat In Pieces

The end of the logging for this year ended with the bulldozer (Cat) breaking down and Mike had to finish the last couple of loads using the farm tractor to  winch logs to the landing.

Since then, we had towed the Cat to the barn where it has waited for us to finish our other fall tasks before we could begin to assess the problem with the machine. Continue reading

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Not As Pretty As Last Year

The wood stack is not the nice, tidy stack that was the result of that big old white fir that was formed with all the split pieces that fit together in one huge square pile.

This year the stack is more of a mish-mash of remnants from the logging. All the limbs, tops and crooked butt pieces make up the majority of the wood pile this year. The pieces are oddly shaped, some are short while others are long, many taper to a splintered point or are fractured and ready to split into several pieces if dropped.

Large stack of wood for winter.It is a good thing the wood-fired boiler we use to heat the house and domestic water has a large door to fit all the crazy shapes. The firebox is big enough to take a hunk of wood 3 feet long. When stacking firewood, the statement ‘If you can lift it, it will fit’ rings true. It’s just that I can’t keep a fire going with only big wood. One grunt piece (makes me grunt when I pick it up) needs to have smaller pieces packed in around it to keep the boiler and me happy through long winter nights.

By using the slash (discarded wood pieces from logging), I am able to clean up the landing and salvage what would be just left to rot. Many years ago I had deemed myself ‘salvage reclamation specialist’ it is a job that creates a lot a security for me. It is not a job that is fought over.

With all the tree damage we had last winter, the windstorm and the subsequent cleanup with harvesting,  the backlog of work will keep me busy for several years. Oh the joy of job security!

Demise of the Crooked Barn

For the last few months I had been saying that you would see all the work done in tearing down the crooked barn and putting up the replacement structure.

This is the first of the posts to see that start-to-finish project.

This is what the barn looked like before we started the demolition process.

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We started with removing all the little fixes we had done just to keep this building staying upright for the last few years and took off all the easily removed bits first.

The equipment was moved out and any extra boards not holding the structure up were removed.

With equipment out, the tractor was used to help dismantle the manger and flooring where the hay was stored.

We tried to save as much of the usable wood as we could for use in the replacement structure.

Salvaged boards stacked for use in new barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boards were stacked by size and length, unless I was stacking. Then they just got put onto the pile.

With the bulk of the cumbersome walls gone, it was time to lower the structure before it decided to fall on its own.

With the right side of the barn on the ground, crowbars were used to pull the metal roof off one nail at a time.

The beams that were bug riddled or rotten were cut to be used for firewood.

All the nails were saved for scrap metal and all the roof was bent in half, flattened and set on pallets for removal to recycle at a later time.

The second side was dismantled just like the first. The area was swept several times with a strong magnet to make sure we had not left any metal pieces. The tractor and bulldozer were brought in to smooth the area in preparation for the replacement structure.

All this was done around all the other farm work and commitments that usually occur during the spring and summer. Definitely not a quick project.

 

 

 

 

Progress on Crooked Barn

Progress on the crooked barn is moving slowly but safely. The entire inside of the old barn has been gutted out and it is now time to work on the roof. Since we are cleaning up the area as we dismantle, we are able to salvage much of the useable material from the structure. We have piles of timbers, piles of roofing, piles of piles, and buckets of nails. Continue reading

May Update

We have 21 calves so far this season. The count is 9 heifers and 12 bulls. I’ve got the hardest part done, that is naming all those babies.

Our best bulls will be raised to be herd sires for other farms. Our best heifers will be raised to be mother cows for the next generation; some will stay here on the farm while others will be sold to be mother cows at other farms.

The bookkeeping part of a Registered Angus Herd is ongoing. The American Angus Association requires more than just the pedigree of the parents to register an animal. Birth weight, weaning weights, yearling weights, along with matching dates for all the measurements are meticulously kept and checked for accuracy.

 

Also continuing this month, is the demolition of the crooked barn. We are currently gutting out the inside and tearing apart the old manger. Since this barn was used to accommodate bulls from 900 lbs. to 2500 lbs., the manger was built to withstand the pressures of big animals as they pushed their big heads between the frame openings to eat hay. Posts made from power poles cut into 8 ft. lengths were sunk into the ground to secure 85 lb. railroad ties, in an effort to keep the bulls on the correct side of the manger. When tearing it apart we found several railroad spikes had been used to hold the corners together.

The manger in the picture is half-way demolished. Still a lot of work to do before it can be pulled out of the barn with a tractor. We are salvaging and re-using as much as we can from this structure. More posts about that process will be coming to this blog soon.

Greenhouse Blues

There are endless possibilities when constructing a greenhouse.  I just wanted a simple structure that I could change or move whenever the mood struck.

In fact, I wasn’t sure if I wanted a greenhouse at all when I started looking at vents, and fans and raised beds. I thought about building a structure on skids. I considered metal tubing for a solid frame. I cringed at the thought of my horrible hammering skills. I researched the library extensively. Yet after all of this, I did not follow any of the self help books, plans that used hundreds of parts and tools, or the websites that made my head hurt. What I ended up with isn’t really a greenhouse, it is more like a large cold frame that converts as the weather changes. We refer to it as our glass house.

I wanted the structure to consist of the aluminum pane windows that had been salvaged and are lightweight and easily moveable. The frame is only 4 t-posts. I used a few salvaged beams with notches, it is a Lincoln log effect holding the structure together. The sides and top are windows that can be moved or removed easily so that when the hot summer sun beats down the plants are not burned to a crisp.


The mild weather of the Willamette Valley makes this structure, simple though it is, worth it’s weight in tomatoes. I am able to begin harvesting a couple of weeks earlier, and a few weeks later when the weather turns cooler in the late summer. Frosts in this area can happen as soon as early September. I cover the entire structure with a canvas tarp and the tomatoes continue to ripen on the plants that are no longer growing. I had fresh tomatoes until November one year.