Chain Hoist

The tool that you never know that you need until the moment comes that low and behold you do. Then you are left thinking, “now what do I do?” For years in the garage we have had a small chain hoist for lifting up mowers and bushogs when it was time to clean the deck or service the blades. Just a small one tied onto the bottom side of the rafters, that though small enough to be portable was stuck in once place once it was hung. Being a smaller hobby style farm we don’t get our diesel fuel delivered to the farm, but we go through enough that keeping 5 gallon plastic jugs around are not quite enough to fill our needs and we are stuck at the whim of the diesel market for pricing concerns, To get around that a few years back we purchased a 50 gallon fuel tank that sits on a stand in the barn. The problem is that the bugger is heavy to lift when it is empty, let alone filled with fuel. In the past it was a careful dance to get the tractor bucket possitioned just above the tank, chain it up and then carefully lift the tank and drive it to the truck. The problem is that this requires moving in tight quarters, and  usually involves maxing out the lift height of the tractor and barely making it, This is where a chain hoist is nice for a taller lift, but being in a fixed possition it doesn’t help getting from the tank stand to the truck bed. Rapidly running out of options that didn’t require two people and a bit of breath holding Christopher found a chain hoist that was tracked to run on an I-Beam with the beam cheaper than other options to just buy the beam. He found the hoist on Craigslist, and it turned out that the hoist and beam had come out of an old factory. The hoist is a Detroit 1/2 ton that has a walking chain rather than being pulled along the beam by hand which makes everything just a little bit easier. 

After some discussions with fBI who built our barn some bracing was added into the rafters to support the added weight of the I-Bean at one end, and the other was set on top of the exterior wall.

The real test of the new hoist came a few weeks after all of the installation and bracing up was finished when it was again time to make our anual diesel run. The new hoist worked beautifully and just as intended. It marked the simplest trip that the tank had ever taken easily moving from the truck right to its place on the stand with no fuss or stress. Even if this hoist is only used once or twice a year for this one purpose it has been worth the time and money that went into it.

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RIP Cole

This last week we lost our first barn cat Cole. We called him the Grumpy Old Man since he was always unhappy if he wasn’t getting his way, but he was a great snuggler when he wanted to be. When he would come in for dinner he would look like he was over weight and we would debate cutting back his feed till someone picked him up and realized that under his winter coat he was very fit and nothing but solid muscle.

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This hunter always earned his keep. He would go after a mouse if the opportunity presented itself, but they were low on his culinary choices. Cole would wait hours for a ground squirrel and shrews  to pop out of its hole, and he would never share them. During the summer he would trot down the sidewalk with a robin so fat that he couldn’t see where he was going when he carried it. This cat even brought baby weasels up to the garage on two occasions. Seriously what cat kills a weasel? This wonderful hunter and four legged child will be missed. Cole you were far too young to go. 2015-06-16 18.45.43.jpg

Campsite Pavilion

I have been radio silent over the summer recovering from surgery and then getting caught up on projects before fall came upon us. Now that things are slowing down I will start catching up on all of the happenings of this summer.

When we took the old barn down last year we held onto most of the lumber and metal for future livestock shelters; in addition the local FFA auction was selling rafters last March. With these supplies we put in a pavilion back at our campsite. The building is about 12’x24’ enclosed on the west long side and half way on each of the north and south ends.

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SUPPLIES:
–        Metal siding – recycled
–        Posts – recycled
–        Lumber – recycled
–        Rafters – FFA Auction
–        Trim – Purchased
–        Fasteners – Purchased

Before we get to that point though we purchased a larger 12” auger bit to make it easier to set the 8”x8” barn posts. Each of the posts was at least 12’ long and had to be set by hand. The guys arms were dragging the ground after setting all of those posts in one day.

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In many ways the posts are the hardest part. Once they went on the grade boards, headers and girts can go up quickly to hold the building square as well as the raters and perlins. Christopher even enjoyed showing just how strong the framing was by doing pull-ups off of the headers.

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The siding metal can be done by one person once a long straight board is fastened to the grade board to set each piece on while the screws are set. The roof is a bit more involved as it takes one person to hand sheets up to the roof and another to be setting and fastening the pieces. For this building I was still on an 8 pound weight restriction, so Christopher set the tractor up next to the building with the bucket as close to the roof height as possible loaded with precut sheets. So that I just had to slide them from the bucket to the edge of the roof so that he could pull them up and into position.

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Christopher was able to source the dirt needed to bring the building site up to grade by digging out from another place on the property where we hope to put a bridge in one day. Luckily by the time the dirt had all been moved to the site and rough spread with the tractor I was strong enough to start getting back to work and leveled out the dirt floor by hand before Christopher brought back several loads of crushed stone to make the gravel floor.

This fall we were able to host our first event in the new pavilion as a High School Group from our church came out for a campfire and cookout. It passed it first test well and we look forward to a lot more events to happen in and round this building in the future

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Stall Revamp – Sand

Before the horses came along I knew that I wanted to have a sand footing in the stall to help with drainage and odor control. The plan was to get about two tons of sand, but it turned out to be a bit over three tons. There is a concrete plant a few miles away where we picked the sand up, and the ag co-op down the road has a drive over scale.

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The south side of the barn is a soupy mess currently,  and so backing the trailer into the stall for the easier dumping was not an option. Between the two of us we were able to unload the three plus tons with a wheel barrow,  shovels and rakes. We ended up with more sand than what we needed so that did spill out some, but that os better than not enough. The horses were not two happy about being kicked out of the barn for a few hours while we worked.

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The new floor came out great. It has been in place for a month or so at this point and my overall impression is that it is a good solution,  but not a perfect one. The sand does drain better, and there is no poop frozen to the ground. The down side is that with the ground saturated and frozen outside the drainage is not as good as I would like so the sand stays a little damp in places. The girls both seem happy with it though, so for our run in stall application I would say that sand has worked out quite well.

The Cat Rules the Barn

The other night I was closing up the barn for the night and saw an odd shadow move across my field of vision. I looked up to see Cole the cat walking between thr rafters of the barn like it was no big deal. For reference thr barn has 10′ ceilings.

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While I looked on in awe he came across the rafters itself to say, “hi.” That is a roughly 1.5″ edge for him to balance on.

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Soon it became evident that Cole had a reason for taking his walk. We had some birds that got into the barn for a couple of days and built a nest at the top of the rafters. While he never got all the way there while I was watching he was determined to figure it out.

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Now some might be asking how on earth did the cat get up there. The hay stack goes to the rafters so it is pretty simple for him to hop up and take his walk.
Cole is able to come and go from the barn at his leisure due to a cat door that Christopher installed for him in the side of the barn. It is installed under the lean-to where it should be protected from the weather. We showed the door to him and showed him how to use it once and now he is comfortable using it on his own.

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Barn Implosion

The old barn has been wanting to come down on its own since most of the metal was removed. Christopher pulled on it with the tractor when the building was trying to come down the wrong way. Since then he has pushed on it by hand and the barn has been coming down. The rafters collapsed breaking at the peaks.

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A lot of the perlins are loose or nearly loose enough that they can be pulled off of the rafters by hand.

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We are looking at a large pile of lumber that is still in very good shape abd can be used for other projects around the farm. Each day wr come home from work the barn is a little closer to the ground.

Phase 1 Shelter

The livestock are going to be very happy with Christopher’s hard work. In taking down the old barn the goal has been to salvage as much of the metal and wood as we could to make other structures on the property. This time Christopher built a run in shed that is 10’x12’ in the front pasture for the calves to stay out of the winter weather. We hope that with drilled posts and solid construction that it will hold up better than last year’s shelter attempt.

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I helped with moving and installing the posts from the old barn. The heavy duty 6”x6” posts from the old barn, and installing the grade boards to attempt to get the building square. Holding the auger right on center can be a real challenge so it is decently close.

The grade boards were the only purchased wood used on the building. All of the girts and purlins are salvaged 2”x4” lumber. Being able to borrow a friend’s air nailer helped make it easier for Christopher to install all of that part of the structure on his own.

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I am not sure how many metal cutting disks were used up as Christophe had to cut each and every piece of metal for the building. The screws that were used are all remainders from the Garage roof a few years ago, and from the new barn. The roof took two people in an attempt to line the screw holes with the purlins while still getting full coverage on the building. The wind was picking up as well for a big rain that night so it was a little bit interesting keeping things in place once we had them lined up before the screws could be put in. Christopher purchased the trim work and we are pretty sure how the whole thing turned out. Until it gets painted it looks like a mini homage to the old barn. 

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We will get around to building up the dirt to make sure that the water doesn’t poor into it too bad this winter. The opening and roof height also allow horses to use it as well if the need arises. Eventually we have talked about building another one of these that is a bit larger in the bigger pasture.