Category Archives: Repairs & Maintenance

Getting Ready

One would think you could just pull in and start with tillage for planting crops as part of my fescue elimination project.  Alas, that isn’t true in my case.  Since i had subdivided the 120 acres into 6 paddocks with 2 wire hi-tensile electric wire, all this had to be wound up and stowed for replacement after 4 years as per my plan.  Old fence posts and wired had to be pulled up and stacked for burning when time allows and entrance gateway had to be widened.

 

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There’s been a 16 foot gate here for longer than i’ve been alive, although this is a new gate i had installed about 5 years ago.  But, 16 foot opening is far too narrow to pull in comfortably with big equipment, although you’d be amazed at what a skilled driver can get through!
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So, this is the new look – set two new corner posts and hung two 16 foot gates.  Very professionally done by Jim Fitzgerald.
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HUGE thank you and shout out to North Central Missouri Electric Coop for quickly removing, not only the lines from the transformer to the meter pole, but also my farm lines from the meter pole to windmill pump. About an 1/4 of a mile’s worth. While i did the ground work of chaining the pole to the front end loading, Dallas pulled the posts. Afterward, i dragged them to a burn pile with my Gator.
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The electric company removed the wires from two tall poles which were on my property.  Our little tractor had to shove a bit on the pole, then really hunker down to get these poles pulled up.  As you can see, they are buried quite deep.  Instead of burning these poles, they were cut to length and used as the corner posts for my new gateways!
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Old fence left over from who knows when still across the pasture with wire buried and tangled.  What a mess but at last we prevailed.
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Here are half the posts from that fence.  These will all burnt in a pile.  Would make good firewood if they weren’t full of staples and wires.  The corner posts were too heavy for me to lift into the bucket, so we just used the tractor to pull them ’round to the burn pile – it wasn’t far.
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An old home built load out chute we drug up out of the middle of the pasture.  
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With most posts pulled up, Dallas is building me a low water crossing while I pull the remaining posts to burn pile and roll up another half a quarter mile of hi-tensile wire.  Weather is perfect for working but I’m about out of steam!

 

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I bet you were wondering how I can roll up 12 gauge hi-tensile electric wire.  The key is this spinning jenny from Powerflex Fence.  Don’t do this without a spinning jenny  Notice the rolls of wire I stored nearby; ready to roll back out after the 4 year renovation.  All told, I rolled up a bit more than 2 miles of hi-tensile wire and pulled some 140 fiberglass posts.  Many were 1 inch and were easily pulled by hand.  I hauled them all home and have them stored on a pallet in the barn.
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Here you can see the old hand strung electric line from way up at the barn down to the electrified pump.  It used to be run only with the windmill, but there is not enough reliable wind to make that very viable.  Anyway, those were the posts Dallas and I pulled up.

Dallas and I did this in a couple days of remarkable weather in November!

Cheers

tauna

Getting Ready for Spring

So much to do to ready the house, yard, farm for spring growth.  In north Missouri, there is always a very narrow window for such activity when it’s not too hot, not too cold, not too muddy, not too dry, not too windy, not too green.  Yeah, spring work needs to happen before spring brush and grass starts growing.

Today is about 70F, cloudy and very windy, so no outdoor burning, but otherwise great for outdoor stuff.

Dallas and i cleaned out a small ditch near the house which contained ancient metal trash – he ran the tractor, i ran the log chain and we made short work of it – had a few interruptions – but finally all pulled out, loaded, and hauled off.

Also, taking time to prune trees, rose bushes, and ornamental grasses.

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Tall ornamental grasses in front of house
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Tied into a bundle before cutting because it’s exceptionally windy here right now and i don’t want to be chasing this stuff all over!
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My trusty Easy2Start Stihl MS211C
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Both bunches cut off
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Bundled and ready to put on my garden for composting.

Get ‘er Done!

Sometimes, we are stymied or overwhelmed by the number of tasks we have before us and sometimes, we are just being plain old lazy!  There are Scriptures which address that sluggardness.  Shake it off and get crackin’!   Analysis paralysis runs rampant in our culture.  You know how we, as parents, hear from our children ‘there’s nothing to do!’  Oh, mercy, that is music to our hears!  😉  (My children learnt at a very young age to never say that and as young adults, they know that there is also something to accomplish or improve.)

Here are some tasks that are easily put off, but are imperative!  (This list can be applied to ANYTHING; the car, pickup, office, shop, barn, you name it, it needs cleaning and organising!)  GET ‘ER DONE!  (The Scriptures even address cleanliness for our own good)

  1. Throw all the bedclothes, curtains, drapes, rugs, doilies, etc next to the washing machine and start a load of mattress pad or sheets.
  2. While those are washing/drying, clean out every single drawer, box, hanger, and throwaway or give away if you haven’t used it or worn within the past year or less.   Most stuff will be trash.  Papers, magazines, articles – throw them away!  If in doubt, throw it away.  Work fast or you’ll get bogged down and not complete the job!
  3. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  4. Now vacuum the mattress – both sides and the box springs (if you have one), vacuum each and every nook and cranny of the room; ceiling, corners, edges, drawers, closet.
  5. Scrub down and/or dust every nook and cranny, this includes floors, floor and ceiling trim.  If you have a lot of knick knacks that need dusting, consider giving them away. Take this opportunity to lighten your future workload!
  6. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  7. Wash windows, mirrors, and glass inside and out.
  8. Haul out trash to recycle or burn or take to dumpster.
  9. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  10. Make minor repairs as needed and make a list of supplies needed to make larger repairs.  Don’t lose the list!
  11. Put mattress pad and/or sheets back on the bed, rehang curtains, lay out rugs, whatever you have.
  12. The room should flow smoothly from start to finish with no stopping if you move along and keep the washing going and you’ve probably lightened the load in the room by half in dust, grime, and junk.  How relaxing!
  13. Boom!  One room down – now for the next.  Yeah, there’s something to do.

 

Remember, that giving away items to a non-profit organisation will garner you a tax deduction.  Ask for a form that will record the items and value.

Have Fun!

tauna

Rehanging A Curtain Rod

Repairs on the farm, in the house, car, whatever are neverending.  When renovating our old house to be used as a guest house (into which we subsequently moved), it was challenging to deal with the old plaster walls when it comes to hanging things. Some months back, I had to ‘rehang’ this curtain rod.

Check out this helpful wikihelp site for determining the best equipment to use for your specific situation;  How to Put Anchor Screws In A Wall

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Sometimes the plaster just crumbles immediately, sometimes, like this case, it took a couple of years, and the screws and plastic anchors pull out.

 

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Fill holes with nail hole repair stuff and let dry.
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Carefully sand it down with steel wool.
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Fill the holes with nail hole repair.
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Drill new holes and insert new plastic screw anchors
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Touch up paint on repaired wall and reattach rod bracket
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Voila! Good as before!
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I really like the curtain rod rings – especially for applications where you might be opening and shutting the curtains oftens. They just glide so nicely by hand without all the challenges of installing traverse rods.

The Road Ahead

Reprinted in part from Farm Journal, December 2015.

Reassess, Dump Loser Assets

Smart farmers will survive the challenges that arise in 2016.  Just as they’ve done in the past, they’ll reassess their spending and recognize cash is king.  I also recommend the following:

Understand true cost of production.  Account for every dollar.  It’s how you’ll quantify whether you’re headed for profit, loss, or breakeven.  Don’t overlook your true living expenses, including what you set aside for college and retirement.  “Tis the year for living frugally.

Scrutinize every line item in your budget.  It’s the only way you can stop haemorrhaging cash and become leaner.  Is there a way to cut your overall costs?  I challenge you to cut all expenses by 1%.  It might seem small, but I’ve witnessed this exercise lead to six-figure savings.  Question input costs and negotiate with suppliers.

Be sure to liquidate all non-productive assets.  You can generate thousands of dollars by selling losers.

Stay in contact with your lender.  They realise down cycles occur.  The last thing you want to do in tough times is cut them off.

article by Peter Martin, Finance & Growth Expert, Farm Journal magazine.

My comments:  Just because an asset is no longer working in your operation, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a ‘loser’ for everyone.  Sometimes our goals change and someone else needs exactly what we no longer need.  Of course, if the asset is junk,  be sure to sell it that way.

 

Repairing our Favourite Picnic Table

Our dear friend, Jesse Bright, built this eight-sided picnic table out of western red cedar  maybe 12-15 years ago.  He was still in high school, (another talented homeschooler), so it’s been a while.  Jesse is now a technical designer at Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill in Alameda, CA, specialising in making his companies’ skyscrapers sustainable and ‘green’ as is reasonable.

Since the table has been sitting directly on the soil all these years, the bottom boards finally rotted away.   So, today’s  task is to at least get all the boards cut.  Unfortunately, ragweed pollen is at extreme high allergy rate, so I can only spend a few minutes at a time outside before succumbing to maximum sneezing, mucuos production, swollen, itchy, red eyes.  😦

When my children were younger, this project of repairing the picnic table would be one of many math lessons.  (We just completed 13 years of home education).  Of course I did all the cutting and drilling until they were older.  However, by then they could manage the entire project.  Measuring, determining angles, planning the project, gathering the necessary tools and materials, determining if something needs to be purchased, then going to town to make the purchase or finding them out of our own inventory.  Time and financial budgeting included as well as problem solving (because you know nothing is as easy as it looks).   All skills needed to be successful no matter one’s career choice.

Finished just in time for Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Turned upside down in preparation for base board removal and measuring.
Most of the screws coule be removed with the cordless power drill, but some needed special attention.
Most of the screws could be removed with the DeWalt cordless power drill, but some needed special attention.
Using my small monkey wrench (visegrips), I could turn the stripped headed screws out fairly easily.
Using my small monkey wrench (Vise-grips), I could turn the stripped headed screws out fairly easily.
The boards had been glued down, so using a disk sander, I sanded off the old boards that had stuck to the glue and ripped off when I pulled off the old boards. Also, sanded off the old glue to make a smooth surface.
The boards had been glued down, so using  my Makita disk sander, I sanded the old boards that had stuck to the glue and ripped off when I pulled up the old boards. Also, sanded off the old glue to make a smooth surface.
Our local lumber store did not have Western Red Cedar boards, so i had to settle for treated 2x4s. Nathan went to get the boards and they sent him home with boards that are above ground grade! GRRRR. Nevertheless, I was ready to finish the project, so i used them anyway. Will treat them with a couple extra coats of boiled linseed oil when i have time. I used a skill saw to the cut the boards. Check out that short board with the 45 degree angles. I did that, too! I'm no carpenter, so that 's a big accomplishment for me.
Our local lumber store did not have Western Red Cedar boards, so i had to settle for treated 2x4s. Nathan went to get the boards and they sent him home with boards that are above ground grade! GRRRR. Nevertheless, I was ready to finish the project, so i used them anyway. Will treat them with a couple extra coats of boiled linseed oil when i have time. I used a Skilsaw  (our model 5250 is so old there is no web link!) to cut the boards. Check out that short board with the 45 degree angles. I did that, too! I’m no carpenter, so that ‘s a big accomplishment for me.
Thunder enjoying a cool morning and looking surprised! :-) Actually, he was just into a yawn.
Thunder enjoying a cool morning and looking surprised! 🙂 Actually, he was just into a yawn.

Tightening the Fence

No deep thoughts or wise words in this blog – it just truly is the telling of a finished project.  The 5 barbed wire fence around an older pond has been loose as a goose for YEARS!  I finally am pressured to fix it since I’m weaning calves at this new location in a couple of weeks.  Seems like I have to have a major push to finish big projects.

The task:

Re-stretch 1050 feet around the pond, all wires needed re-stretching which meant ALL the clips had to come off and put back on after stretching.  That is about 90 posts times 5 is 450 clips!  Stretching the wire around each corner post with fence/wire pliers and pounding in the staples to make it hold.  I’m not sure how many hours it took me because I had to break it into smaller jags – i just get tired you see.  And a couple days ago, I pushed too hard and knocked out a rib.  By the time I got home I was nearly in tears!  (I have an appointment on Friday to get put back together)

Not only did Dallas man the Rhino GPD-30 Gas Powered Driver (most of the posts had heaved out of the ground over the years), but he also helped finish up today with helping to hang the gate where there had been a wire gap before.  It’s just an old worn out gate, but it will be fine for this job for many years – at least the rest of my life.

Saggy Fence
Saggy Fence
Tightened Wires
Tightened Wires
Dallas manned the Honda post driver machine.  It's SUPER handy for when you don't want to use a tractor and front end loader.  I only had to remove the top clip and still drive the posts.
Dallas manned the Rhino GPD-30 Gas powered driver. It’s SUPER handy for when you don’t want to use a tractor and front end loader. I only had to remove the top clip and still drive the posts.
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Dallas helping put the finishing touches on gate hanging today. Note the crooked posts – we did the best we could – the gate is actually hanging straight!