Friday, May 30, 2014

DownEast dickering

Aimee and I went on a shopping trip this Memorial Day. We needed to go check out baby stuff at the big box baby store in Portland. But we also wanted to check out a hay elevator I found on Maine Craigslist

We came back with a little baby stuff, but more elevator. Thirty-two feet, to be exact. The price was steep too, even if that is a poor pun, but working hay elevators are hard to find. I'd been searching the classifieds for weeks trying to find one. There were only two available in the whole state of Maine, and the other one was brand new and twice the price. In my own re-enactment of the new History Channel show about Maine, Down East Dickering, I managed to get a two-hundred dollar price reduction. This was fair, considering how rusty the unit was, but I think I still paid too much. I had to replace all the rusty bolts holding it together, paint it, grease it, and tinker with the motor before I was satisfied with it. I also removed an eight-foot section, making it only twenty-four feet, so it could be stored in the thirty-foot long barn attic. It will need a second coat of paint later this summer, if I can find the time.

Even so, I'm looking forward to putting up hay without breaking my back this year. That's routinely the hardest day's work of the year for me, since I'm the one that has to boost the bales into the attic door, nine feet off the ground.

I'll still need to find a hay vendor that is willing to help load, though, or hire a helper for the day. Aimee's in no position to help load hay, even with an elevator. Luckily, there are still some students in the area who might like to earn some extra money.

The other job we're working on is siding. This is part of the Grand Plan for the extension. Aimee wants a deck. I want one too, to round out the nice new living experience we're having with the extension. I can also imagine a toddler playing in the sun on said deck in a couple years' time, and it will make it fun and easy to get outside with the baby to get some sun.

But before we can have a deck, we need siding.

Here's my spray station for the eight-by-four foot siding boards. The rest of the house has coated cedar shingles, and the extension will eventually have those too, but it's one of Aimee's jobs to fit them and she's in no condition for ladder work right now, and may not be ready to go back to the shingles for a year or two.

Although lots of Mainers seem to leave off working on their houses at the Tyvek stage, that wasn't for me. I wanted some protection on those walls. Siding sprayed the same color as the shingles seemed a reasonable compromise. Each board takes only a few seconds to spray. I can do six at a time. The hard part is keeping the sprayer, a small Wagner airless, working.

Then the boards get screwed in place. Here's the gloomy corner between the shed/garage, the kitchen, and the extension. This is a small dead-end space that we created when we built the extension, and doesn't get much sun. It needs especially careful attention to water sealing. I also added another inch-and-a-half of foam board insulation behind the siding on the house. That will complete the house insulation project started in 2006. It's only taken me eight years to super insulate this old farmhouse.

We've neglected the garden for a couple weeks, while working on the hay elevator and siding projects, but the weather has been damp. Too damp to weed or hoe. That ended yesterday with a cold front. We even got a late frost the night before last (May 28th, for the record). There was cold ice on the Camry's windshield, but the garden was spared.

I'd like to get right back to siding, but the lambs need tetanus booster shots, and then two lambs have to go to our friend John and Nancy, where they will mow the lawn all summer before getting the chop in the fall.

The ewes will be upset.

Bad lamb stealer man Mick, again.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
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