Thought I’d be a little bit different and just post about my week of vacationing on the farm.

Thursday, June 1st:  Get up at 6:30 and head to work.  Call Clifton Hill Lumber and ask about 1 x 8 T&G panel.  Agree on a price and too my surprise, they can delivery on Friday!   Pay the balance on some rental house repair, and confirm with a buyers agent they can tour on Friday. Web over to the post office and hold mail for a week at our St. Louis home.  Load the truck with the cat tree and a fair amount of stuff from the garage (hate taking the truck up empty). Eventually hit the road around 6pm and head to the farm.  Note gas is selling for $2.19 in St. Louis.  Stop at Larry’s Boots in Columbia (exit 121 on I-70) and tell them I want replacement for my favorite pair that finally died (leather sides separated from heel), go back to I-63, stop at McDonald’s and try their new Cherry Lemonade – yuck!  The slice of lime they put in is the only real thing that has come close to this drink.  Note Columbia gas is also at $2.19, unusual, its normally cheaper. Head north, stop for gas in Macon ($2.10/gal) and make it to the farm around 10pm.  Settled in by 11:30pm. 

Friday, June 2nd:  Wrap up some Bick work with a client.  Install final monitor that arrived during the week and rewire using longer cables that enable me some flexibility.  Try the optical cable on my Logitech 5.1 amp and get nothing.  Given the wired connections only work on 2 of the 6 channels, I’m rather disappointed.  Write Logitech a reply to my previously filed issue.  More Bick work in the early afternoon, interrupted by the delivery of the lumber – (96) 12′ and (96) 14′ boards.  Doesn’t take too long to unload, pretty much wrapped up by 4pm.  Note Wonder Woman opens today, so take the wife and see that.  Swing by Hi-Vee to see if the fruit trees are on sale yet.  Good luck, 30% off now – they were full price last week.  Evia and I decide to clear the truck out of everything I hauled up and go buy some cherries we had our eye on in the morning.  Deal with yet another real-estate agent telling me why I need him as a selling agent… bah, not until the end of the summer earliest.  Selling this house “For Sale by Owner”, having showings, don’t understand why I should pay a selling agent $4500 for their guess on a sales price and for them to spend $99 to MLS list it for me.  Start building a to-do list for the upcoming week:  Mount  A/C units in the office, mount cell-phone antenna on roof (drilling a small hole to pass the cable through), put up T&G inside, build shelves, castrate young bulls, shuffle cattle, spray hawthorns and wild roses with 2-4D, perhaps help Evia paint chicken coop, find a hose based watering system for the chickens and turkeys, buy bass fingerlings for lake and head back to St. Louis on Friday to wrap up cleaning of that house that is for sale.  Was going to mount my air-hose reel, but buyer of my purse.io order bailed on me.  Need to call Microsoft and get a license key for my latest Windows 7 box – they started putting scratch-off material over the keys, and I destroyed 3 of the 25 digits removing that material…  Watched the sunset on our fishing doc with the wife.   After sunset, we went back to the office to test antenna positions and see if the we-boost that arrived during the movie actually works.  Yep – about 20db of gain, which is nice.  Talked about where to put the AC units, and came back and started this blog post.  Going to watch an episode of House of Cards and call it a night – should be in bed by midnight.  Discovered I just about maxed out my small UPS in the office – with (2) dual xeon servers and (3) monitors running, I suck up 847 watts.  If I turn off coin mining on one of those servers, the power usage drops to 588 watts.  Load does matter!

Saturday, June 3rd.  Woke up at 6am to Duncan, our bull, calling his ladies.  Went back to sleep <smile>. Going to be hot today, near 90 (actually hit 91 now that I checked).  We opted to close the windows since evenings are not as cool anymore and turned on the AC.  Cleared out the truck from the stuff I brought from St. Louis.  Cats appreciate having their cat tree back!  Went into town and bought (4) cherry trees and (2) plums as replacements for other trees that have failed in our orchard.  Picked up a couple of currants too.  Also picked up the final 2 sheets of AC plywood needed to finish the lower portion of the workshop.  Stopped at Orsheln and picked up chicken feed and something we are going to convert to a hose fed waterier for the chickens.  Also salt for the guinea pigs and pickles for us.  Came home and it was 79 inside, with the thermostat set to 75.  Not good.  Called the HVAC guy and then decided to take a look.  Power cycled the compressor and noticed no condensate.  Ah!  Had this problem before… the drain pipe gets clogged with junk and a sensor disables the compressor due to water build up.  Called HVAC guy who told me to suck  it out with my wet/dry vacuum and hurray! water is flowing.  An hour later, house was 75F.  Called the HVAC guy back and got a “Good Job” from him.  Still need him to come out and finish hooking up our heat and stove in the workshop, but that can wait until others AC’s are fixed.  Spring is over, Summer is here, and he is swamped.   Had an early dinner, a short nap, and then onto hose repair and getting the garden water system up and running.  Around 7:30 we went out to wrestle the auger onto the tractor,  Of course, had to drop off the hay fork from the back, and while we were there, moved the front fork into the hay barn.  Auger is the hardest 3 point hitch implement we have to hook up.  There are the lower 2 points, no big deal, but the upper point requires fighting the PTO shaft and the auger itself.  A good 45 minutes later we finally had it hooked, although the PTO isn’t locking, so has come off a time or two.  Since we had a bit of light left, decided to test drill a hole and ended up getting 5 of the 6 holes dug we need.  Progress on #6, but it was 9:15pm and we were rapidly losing the last of the light.  Came, washed up, grabbed a glass of water, and posted this.

Sunday, June 4th.  Evia made bacon!  Had (2) bacon and egg sandwiches and watched “Training Day” on the recommendation of a co-worker.  OK, but not great, movie.  Alas that blew the “get up early and work outside” plan, so we ended up planting the trees and currants in mid-day heat.  Of course, had to find hoses long enough to water everything and find out which survived the winter.  Most are fine for watering, but many have small cracks making them useless for any pressure application (like using a turn off valve on the end). Still need to rig self-filling water for the chickens, but at least Evia has a hose down there now – so shouldn’t have to carry water to them anymore.  Came in and took a nap with the intentions of getting up and installing the AC unit in the workshop.  Instead discovered my certificates expired on all my webservers (the stuff that allows for HTTPS instead of HTTP).  Unfortunately, had to relearn how to set those up, but believe I have them set now so that they auto-renew and I can forget about them.  Alas, that was close to 6 hours work. For any techies reading this, I’m using Let’s Encrypt with DNS authentication for SSL certificates.  Nice to have a free, open Certificate Authority.  I’m sure they are annoying the hell out of all the sites that have been charging people typically $100+/year per site (e.g. GoDaddy, NameCheap, Weebly, etc.).  At least the work was inside, but meant not much else happened on the farm.

Monday, June 5th.  I don’t understand.  We lost a day… really.  All we did was water the trees and managed to install the office AC unit (and install dedicated power runs for it and the meat room).  Somehow that blew an entire day.  Yeah, I finished upgrading my lamp, mail, and smtp servers, but that was mostly computer time, not so much so mine.  Yeah, we did get the 3-point auger hung in a tree, which will make installing it next time a LOT easier, but that was just a few minutes with Sonny’s help.  Yeah, the AC unit was installed 8 feet up on a wall, not in a convenient window (we have casement windows which are not compatible, besides a unit up high is more efficient).  But still… an entire day gone???  Oh, spent a bit of time printing out documents and filling them out out for the title company for the rental house we just sold.  Suppose that ate an hour or so, since we had problems with our printer (it wouldn’t DHCP itself, so I static IPed it).  Now its 11:15pm and time for a beer.


Tuesday, June 6th.  Spent the morning resolving a few office computer issues while Evia was in town buying supplies:  Managed to get my Unifi Security Gateway to adopt, moved one server to the workshop to reduce heat load in the office, resolved my product key issue via Microsoft support for the Windows box, and got a confirmation that Logitech will be replacing my bad amp.  Once Evia was back she insulated the AC unit with Great Stuff and we spent the vast majority of the afternoon and early evening spraying tree sprouts.  Also ordered 105 tons of 1.25″ minus gravel for our driveway.  Still have several fields to spray, but at least we have a start on it.  Locust spouts appear to be very bad this year, but also noticing a LOT more milkweed in the fields, which is great news for our monarch population (photo from June 30th, 2015 taken on our farm by John Murphy using Kevin’s cell phone.

Wednesday, June 7th.  Gravel day.  Had (6) truckloads of 1.25′ minus gravel delivered today – around 90 tons.  Put a nice heavy coat over the 900′ of driveway we have, plus flared out the entrance and added a new section leading to the garage door in the workshop – plus a small pile for future use.  Its a farm… there is always a future use for gravel.  Greased the tractor between loads.  Alas, one downside of being in the middle of nowhere is that it gravel trucks almost 2 hours to go round trip.  Of course, that provided me spreading time.  Also did some fence repair, got nicely sunburned shoveling gravel, and discovered in the evening that gravel truck apparently took out the ground wire feeding electricity to the neighbors.  Fortunately, just the ground, which is redundant with the real ground.  Every pole ties to earth, which was enough to keep the lights on at the neighbors.  Anyhow, one of the big mysteries of running a farm is where all the gravel goes.  In the 10ish years we have had this place, we have put gravel down at least 4 times.  Where does it go?

Thursday, June 8th.  Cattle day… and what a LONG day.  Started out pretty well.  We isolate a field full of teenage girls into a holding area, that went reasonably well.  Then we moved the rest of the herd.  The adults were no problem at all.  The teenage boys (ok, really only 1-2 years old, but that IS teenagers for cattle) really didn’t want to leave the shade or the pond they were playing in.  Evia got the Kubota RTV stuck chasing them, so had the opportunity to becomes friends again with our tractor which we used to pull it out.  Eventually got everyone sorted into two areas.  And then, of course, there was the issue with Duncan, who hasn’t seen ‘his girls” in a couple of months.  (Intention on our part due to January and February births… we wanted to push that cycle a little latter in spring).  Naturally one of his daughters was in heat, only swift gate work finally got them separated, with him doing his best all day to get back together with her.  Processing was the really long part.  A few of the animals trotted through the head catch like it was an every day, twice a day, activity.  Most didn’t.  Imagine rowing a boat with an 8’ ore with you on one side, and a cows butt on the other, trying to get them to move forward.  I did a LOT of that today.  We finished around 9pm with 5 boys banded (a method of castration), one bull left alone (Snowdrop) because he is both cute and friendly… almost too friendly, you can’t get him to go with the others because he wants to be by you, just in case you might have a cookie for him.  In any case, he eats from our hands, and doesn’t mind having his chin/head/back rubbed – the perfect disposition for a future bull for someone.  On the other end of the spectrum, Rose, one of our original 4, is getting meaner by the year.  She charged Evia and I several times – once with Evia having to hit her on her horns with a large stick to get her to stop. Its just a challenge, she veered away all but that one time with Evia.  Still, Evia commented in frustration that we should shoot her, and bottle raise her calf.  Rose has also become a jumper, hopping fences, and worst, teaching other cattle they can do that too.  Rose got sorted back into the the teenage girl field, she will become hamburger this fall.  Anyhow, everyone except Rose and Nichole (who we think has a calf hidden, since twice she turned back into a field rather than accept a cookie and be lead in with the rest of them – and Nichole LOVEs her cookies) have been dewormed.  (We use a dung beetle friendly dewormer call Cydectin- its expensive, but better for the ecosystem)   Several animal that hadn’t been tagged or who lost them were retagged, and anyone who was never vaccinated received a 7-in-1 vaccine shot.  Duncan is now back with his ladies, although his attention is still on the one he can’t have, and we have opened the farm back up so that the main herd has access to the vast majority of it.  All the teenage girls in their field will be for sale, as will the steers, as soon as we can get some photos and ads placed.  Snowdrop will get a year or so to find a herd to bull, or, unfortunately, he too will become a steer (a castrated bull).  Problem is that it only takes one bull to service about 20 cows, and half the calves born are young bulls… thus the majority of bulls become meat.  In 6 years of calves, we have had 3 boys we considered good enough to sell as bulls:  Larry, Dias, and now Snowdrop.  Larry was actually better than our Duncan, but we didn’t want to line breed him back.  Fortunately he found a home.  Dias did not and was one of the 5 castrated today,  Snowdrop is our next hope.  Alas, EVERYONE has a bull for sale, so its tough.

Friday, June 9th.  Last day, need to go back into St. Louis to catch up on life there.  Today was suppose to be Fish Day…  The plan was to go to a fishery about 30 miles away and buy some largemouth bass fingerlings and complete the stocking of the lake.  Got everything ready – have a 100 gallon aqua tub which we cut a lid for out of some scrape plywood.  Even added a couple of handle.  Grabbed the aeroators and the checkbook.  I had e-mail them earlier in the week but had never received a reply.  Takes about 45 minutes to get there, and discovered a rope across their driveway.  Open “8 to 5, Monday -> Friday.  All farm pickups by appointment only!”  I didn’t spot that last part on their website.  Guess “Open 8 to 5” means they might answer their phone or do e-mail, maybe.   It was only about 2pm, so I tried calling their number and it rolled to a voice message.  While doing that, one of the owner’s wife drove by and made some calls.  Found one guy actually at the fish farm who offered to help.  Told him I need 200-250 bass fingerlings.  We filled the tub with local water, drove over to the facility, and the guy discovered they had about 10 fish left…   Left my name and number, will try calling them back next week.  Apparently they don’t actually raise the fish (or at least not all of them), but rather buy from a wholesaler in Arkansas and then resell.  The gentlemen had no idea when their next run would be.  So we packed up and went back to our farm, minus about 2 hours of time.   When I was in the office in the morning, I noticed the computer was having some problems accessing an external USB disk drive.   Seemed to be able to read it, but not write it.  I had played around with that in the morning without much success.  Windows recognized the drive, but would not enable it.  Nothing critical on the disk, just backups, a local cache of Dropbox files, and the Bitcoin blockchain – all replaceable.  Toyed with returning it, but since I had an unexpectedly free afternoon, I opted to fool around with it a bit more.  I had previously discovered that most external USB drives were just standard SATA disk with a small SATA -> USB adapter added (and for some reason, were about 20% cheaper than just buying the disk directly).  So I priied open the cover, pulled out the drive, and plugged it in direclty as a SATA drive.  Windows came up without problems and all the data was there!  That saved several days of resyncing, if in fact its fixed.  Could be it just worked because it had a long cool down period.  Will know more when Evia returns Sundaynight.  After that, ate a bite, then packed up the truck and headed back to St. Louis.  “Vacation” over.