Montana Worcation: Days 4-7

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Day 4: Bachelor herd of 10 deer amble past the house. A Buck with a handful of Does comes up past the barn. It must be Deer-Thirty in a.m.

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Another bed of SLC plants, this time it is Lilies of the Valley for the N side of the log Ice House.

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We lined the bed with newspapers as a weed barrier, then filled the wagon 3 times with pine cones from under the big pines in the yard for mulch.

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This section of new rail was planned for last year, but the truck had broken down on the other side of the divide just outside Glacier National Park. The bed extender/workbench is made to carry these 16′ rails safely in the 6′ truck bed. This image shows a problem (bent/warped rail) and the tools for the solution (bar & endcut of rail).

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I levered the bend up while E slipped the cut rail end to hold things in place while I secured it in place with a beefy lag-screw.

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My solution takes awhile, and E spots this Downy/Hairy Woodpecker.

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New section of rail matches last year’s new gate, and aligns with the long section of rail my sister and father and I put in back in ’08. It is kinda pricey, so I’m just doing a section per year.

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We want to secure the boundary fence of the yard today- and here is another section that is problematic at the south yard.

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Problem solved with the two rails I removed to put up the new split rail by the gate.

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The new top rail left me a salvage length long enough to deal with the last piece of blue-twine fence “repair”.

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The old rail matches in, and is so much better than the make-believe fence dangling from a piece of string.

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This cross beam no longer existed, so I pulled a rail of cedar post from our June cedar salvage and pranged it in place with good tension. Next I rewound the wire tension with the stick below the drill, then put a new rubber bungee connector for the gate. It is so tight that E has trouble opening it- but so do cows. Next I re-stretched the barbed wire.

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When our repairman and I had loitered in the basement waiting for the water tank to fill, I had notice the bright yellow fungus connecting this old support beam to the floor. It was hanging from the ceiling, connected to the ground with mold.

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My hardware store run a few days back included a concrete footing and a clean 4×4 with a strong center grain. Here I am measuring it for a cut that will be 6 inches higher than the beam when mounted on the footing.

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I cut and L bracket 4.75 inches down the beam, giving me a 1.25 inch gather against the beam. This will require my mini sledge and a level.

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Here the beam is set in place with nice gathered tension on the beam- we are below a wall that runs the length of the kitchen with doors opening into the bath and laundry, so this is an important place for structural support.

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After putting up the hummingbird feeder under the porch, E and I drive up with Stanley to watch the sunset on the giant cumulonimbus.

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The sunset fades out, because a storm is rushing in over the Little Belts, so this view to the East is the last of the sunset.

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Here is the beginning of the storm front pushing in.

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The cows are all hoping we brought salt.

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We can feel the barometer falling and the air is turning heavy.

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The high meadow storage shed and its lonely line of trees anchor the field from the building storm.

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Day 5: Rainy and in the 40’s, so indoor chores are the day’s plan. I reinstall the bedroom floor trim boards we refinished in June and last summer.

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The rain began last night and continued all through the day and into the night, bringing more than 3 inches. The evening really cooled down, and we put a fire in the wood stove at 7:30pm, and worked on a puzzle. E says, “Rain Rain Go Away, Why did you have to stay the whole long day?”.

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This bathroom cabinet has never closed very well. Thought I’d take a look.

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Problem #1, the center shelf is at an angle and doesn’t seat within the center groove of the door.

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I re-seat the shelf lower by about 1/2 inch. Also the hardware is too long for the panels and pokes past the hinges so they can never close completely: fixed. And 5 coats of paint and drips had ensured nothing could be quite right: fixed.

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Paint shavings. I cut the paint by pulling a wide chisel like a small plane rather than sand it, as it is all lead paint- the shards stuck like glue to the floor. For the rest of the day I cleaned and organized the tool shed, and E blocked our last mouse highway (around plumbing for the dead-and-gone-as-of-June washing machine) with steel wool.

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Day 6: The storm breaks. I head out and refit the front gate’s tightening mechanism while the morning figures itself out.

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After finishing up yesterday’s tool shed organizing I bring some big items up to their new home in the garage. The stop/buckle for the big rolling door had snapped off long ago, and I found a piece of scrap machinery that would replace it well enough.

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It takes some tinkering.

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A beefy solution.

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The afternoon of day 4 E and I had dismantled the old grain feeder for the heifers, after pulling it from the burn pile. It had a few clean 16′ runs of thick cedar board. Here I repurpose them, replacing a triage of wire panel.

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Here is what we are working against- old fences dragged in front of fallen down holes and the like.

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Or just wire panel across broken expanses of nothing. This is part of the lower corral- I am ignoring this and making sure the the corral fence that borders the yard is secure (an ongoing project).

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The Divining Hammer tells me what to do with this short run of board, and how to do it.

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Always listen to the Divining Hammer.

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The 5 rail tension slats need help. Some have dropped onto the ground, and the ground has risen up to bury some, and many need new holes drilled before setting in a new nail.

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The fence is all fixed, and now I just need to lift a few branches from it.

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There we go.

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It is best to appear oblivious to a Sasquatch Nest.

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Some parts of the corral are laying in the corral, so I put them back up.

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Putting the boards up means lagging the support beam back together.

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Lagged and ready to skin with panel.

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The big plan for this trip was to triage the barn. This is a portion of the 40′ back wall facing North into the horse pasture. The horses stand near it for shade, and lean and rub against it, and kick out the panelling and smash up the foundation.

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Luckily I have found a few 80lb bags of grout mix in cleaning out the sheds during the rain.

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First up, rodeo time. I chain up the old feeder troughs made of tractor tires on skids and bring them up to the barn as a horse buffer.

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Little loop to make corral gate #1.

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I want to go out the gate directly to my right. The truck is past it and the trough is pointing toward it.

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Up toward the barn…

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Psych! Back down and around from the barn.

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Out through the gate into the horse pasture.

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Up and over the hill to the barn.

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You really only want to have to lift this thing once.

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But of course, there are two of them.

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Horse Bumper in place.

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The barn swallows were absent for a number of years, but this year they are back with all new mud nests. A swallow is peering out from the closest nest.

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They have a good start toward filling the eve- about 15 nests makes for a constant pinwheeling of up to 30 swallows.

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E’s job is to use an orbital paint eating machine as far as she can reach. Don’t worry, the sparrows are on the other side…

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You can see where she has cleared off over the fist window, to the top of the middle window, and on down past the last window. A lot of elbow grease.

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Day 7: I have been around back repointing the foundation. This is my last bit. E takes a break from scraping and hunts for stone through the corrals.

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Stanly is feeling a bit pensive about the magnitude of fixing the barn.

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I cleared away the old dead board, shoveled out dirt til I hit the remaining foundation, wire brushed all the dirt out, pulled nails from the old failing beam the boards tie in to; then it is mud time. I lay in a layer of grout, then grout the stone and lay it in grout to grout.

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Once the big stones are laid in, I fill gaps with smaller stones and grout, then mix a peanut-butter batch and fling it deep into the crevices (that is a bit of a trick).

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More than half needed redone. I also patched some of the high wall at the other end.

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Someone had tied a steel belt around the pole to the barn to support the pole, and torn up the edge panel. I removed the belt and glued and clamped and screwed the panel back together.

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Elizabeth has moved around to the front of the barn working the entire face up to the rain baffle over the doors. She has been in the sun for hours and hours and the barn is like a hot cliff face. She is no longer using the orbital stripper, to save the pad for me up on the ladders, and is using a wire brush and scraper.

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We have killed another packrat up at the barn by the saddles. This one had nearly chewed his own leg off, and was close to 8lbs or so: huge. I reset the trap and we have a clean kill to the neck within two days.

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This corner has all kinds of issues. The lower 4 or 5 boards are a skirt that have no backing against the rest of the barn. The side trim has broken away and left a hole for critters to access the barn. There have been many rocks thrown into the hole from inside, which pushes the skirt further out, which widens the hole, which requires more rocks, and etc.

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After removing all the rocks I remove the old board used to cover a hole where the panel boards broke from flexing out. Through the hole I use long screws to tie the skirt up and into the frame of the barn.

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Next I go to my collection of square cut stone and bring up pieces to rebuild a toe.

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The toe is solid, and a stone stands on end to be sandwiched btwn the skirt and the foundation.

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Now I cut a clean hole for new fitted panel.

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It looks like it will need two panels, as the upper board isn’t all there.

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The panels are in place, and the trim boards are cut high at 45% for maximum connection and to drain water.

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New corner is in place. On to 20 more little spots E found while prepping. I set a new hasp and make a big steel pin for the door, then cut 40′ of metal in 12’x9″ strips for a new rain baffle over the barn doors (a little twilight project while E made dinner).

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