Friday, December 30, 2016

Fence Building with an Adolescent Girl

The title of this post sounds terrifying. It's Christmas break, I'm on vacation (trying to burn up time so that I don't lose it), and things need to get done out in Carmine. Primarily, we need a fence around the cabin to keep the dog in and a wintertime explosion of calves out.

I have heard stories about how prolific Norman the bull is. He is a master of breaking fences to get to a cow he fancies; no matter how far down the road she may be. But lately, I'd say he's managed to satisfy the love craving within his own heard.

Norman is very white and very ugly.  However, he knocked himself out on the cuteness factor this winter. Especially this one whom I've named Napoleon Dynamite because of his frizzy frontal fro.

Although he's very young and inexperienced where begging for range cubes is concerned, he seems to be a fast learner. This little guy is not opposed to a little tug on his fro if he thinks it will produce a goodie. Easily the most mellow calf I've ever encountered. I think he's going to be a major pest, so I need a fence fast.

Hate looks at 8 a.m.

As many already know, I'm a morning person, so I wanted to get up and get out to the property early. That means a certain 13 year old girl would not be sleeping until noon. It sucked for her, but I flipped the light on by 8 a.m., took the nasty glare without batting a eye, loaded up the truck, and had us on the way before 10 a.m.

Once she was up and awake, Elizabeth turned out to be a very good sidekick, and to my surprise, fence builder. Granted, this is going to cost me some money, but that's O.K. One of my parenting goals is to teach her the value of hard work.  After spending some time with the cows  - I mean, it is cowland these days - we got started setting fence posts.

(I'm naming the little tan one Bart because he totally looks like Bart Simpson)

Two Capricorns make a lot of noise

I wanted to get at least one line of t-posts driven in one day. With Elizabeth as my helper, I figured the learning curve would be steep, and it would take way longer than it should. Let me tell you. This kid is a natural. We got those posts driven in less than an hour. She asked to be the pile driver, and I agreed because it's easy to pull up a post if it goes in crooked. She was efficient, and her posts were straight. That means I had time to dig the hole and set the corner post.

We finished by 1:45, went and had some lunch, then went to visit an old high school friend. And we still beat Tammy home! What makes this so amazing is that Tammy and I are both Capricorns. We get stuff done. But when we get stuff done together, it's two too many bosses on the job. So the arguing is thick. The posts may not be straight because the technique will vary greatly between us. We'll get it done, and get it done right, but not without a lot of noise.

Elizabeth is an easy work partner. 

Since we did so well on day one, we went back out to Carmine for a second day and finished driving all the posts; including the final corner post. Elizabeth knows how to square a corner, she's an expert with a pile driver, and she is quite pleasant. (She told me we work so well together because she lets me tell her what to do; unlike "Mama.")

It's time to stretch some fencing. And I need to do something about that pile of brush, as well as move those monster logs somewhere else. We'll have many more to add to the pile in the next year, so they need a less visible place to live until we can get them milled for use.

Stay tuned for fence stretching. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tiny Christmas House in the Office and What it Taught Me

November and December have mostly lost their charm for me. Deep in my spirit, I love the holidays. I love houses shrouded in colorful lights and Christmas decorations.

I love my mother's dressing to the tune of an annual weight increase that takes three times as long to shed as it took me to eat my way through half a pan of bready goodness. These days, I work really ridiculously hard during the holidays. I mostly miss any holiday cheer. I can't remember what happens from year to year except that I work really hard.

That means that work on the property has come to dead stop. There is a line of fence posts standing behind our cabin. It's waiting for our return. I don't even know when that will happen. But things will calm down, and we'll get the rest of that fence built and the rest of Tammy's amazing bar-b-que pit built. Just not now.

Here's the Irony

I want nothing more than to pack up the truck and spend all of my time working on the land. There are so many things to do. Even though work is nowhere near fun this time of year, the company did challenge us to decorate our departments for a fun holiday contest. Since my department worked so hard, and I do love satire, and my team mostly wasn't into it, I made a lunchtime decision to create a Minions scene for us. It lightened the mood.
It wasn't much. I don't expect to win. I just don't want to be the company scrooge team, and as I've already said, I secretly love this time of year. 

Irony #1 - Besides me and one other team member, one of our Jewish team members wanted to do this, too. He got his first terrible experience with hanging Christmas lights. 

Irony #2 - The SEO and PR team had been mysteriously lax in decorating until this past Wednesday. On my way into the building that morning, I ran into Mark trying to get a arm load of 2x4s and trim pieces up the stairs. This I can appreciate. They were going BIG! They pulled a late-nighter and built this.

That is a 150 sq. foot tiny house right in the middle of the office. In my opinion, we needed to call off the contest, and just declare Mark and his team the winners. He built a tiny house kit and assembled the frame right around his department!

Amazing Office Build Gives Me a Chance to Learn

I lurked around this little Christmas cottage all day Thursday. I totally admire the whole concept conceived by the team, but I'm mostly interested in Mark's execution. He pre-cut the structure, pre-drilled his screw holes, and made minimal adjustments once in the office. I'm totally stealing this little house frame idea and building a structure out in Carmine. I'm sure Mark makes it look easier than it is, but I'm going to do it.

What did he do that I've never thought of? One thing. Pre-drill the holes. That means less work for my drill batteries once I'm out on the land where I have no electricity. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I promise. It is.

As for fun. Not only is this little house super spectacular, it's also a reminder of those great tent houses we built as kids. Our secret hideaways, right in the middle of the living room. In this case, I want to be on the SEO team the rest of the year so that I can hide away while I work. 

Expect a future blog about an outhouse kit and storage barn kit inspired by the SEO & PR team at