Category: Home Improvements

I forgot to mention that I received my tax refund incredibly quick this year.  It took less than a week which I think is some sort of personal record.  Of course I already have the refund  spent in it’s entirety on the new whole house RO system that is supposed to be installed next week.

Yesterday at the gym I had this sudden increase in strength that came out of nowhere while doing decline bench press. I felt stronger than I had in months.  I have always had monthly strength fluctuations to some degree but this was the most noticeable week to week change I can ever recall.

I followed up my strange strength gains with an equally strange wrist sprain when waking up this morning.  I recall doing nothing that would have caused such an injury yet I now have pain in the right wrist that feels like I punched a wall.  Mystery aches and pains are something that seem to happen quite often as you get older.  For the most part I just ignore them and keep limping along.

Yesterday we received a SpotBot that I ordered.  When we first adopted Nicki years ago we got an older style SpotBot shortly afterward.  It became a valuable tool in the constant battle of pet excrement versus carpet.  When Ali and I separated the SpotBot went with her since she had the dogs primarily.

Well with two dogs in the house now and Elsa’s recent run of bathroom accidents a SpotBot once again made sense.  I saw they made some changes to the design over the years but it seems to still work well.  I sat through a cycle or two on the bed just watching it do it’s thing.

Saturday morning I was up and outside early.  After doing the chicken clean up I hit the yard chores like weeding and weed whacking.  I turned the pool equipment back on after leaving it off overnight as the pool guy recommended so the freshly cemented joints could dry.  I was not thrilled when later in the day I noticed another wet spot by the plumbing.  It was coming from the back flow valve that was part of the heater install.  There was a very steady drip.

I sent pictures of the leak to the pool guy along with a description.  He called me back and suggested I try to tighten the connector on the valve as it is threaded.  He said it was possible his other work may have caused it to loosen up.  Luckily I had a big pipe wrench.  I turned the valve very slightly, skeptical that I would be successful.  However it appeared the drip did cease as the concrete pad stayed dry from that point on.

After I was done in the yard Cindy and I did a Rural King/Home Depot run.  At Home Depot we just planned to get some mulch, both the conventional and the rubber variety to refresh more landscaped areas that were chicken casualties.  We wound up getting some shelving material as well for a seat of the pants project, building a shelf in the master bathroom.

The bathroom counter in our bedroom has a large chunk of dead space under the drawer.  It’s something that always bugged me to some degree for the last 16 years but I never acted on it.  Well since Cindy repainted the bathroom and we installed the new faucet this seemed as good of a time as any to do it.  Cindy had been looking at some stuff online but none of it was a great fit to the dimensions we had so building something seemed like a good option.

I have built other things out of this shelving material before, most notably the dog food platforms.  We had a drawing of the approximate dimensions we were going to use.  The construction process took place outside the large shed.  We used the Honda generator for power for the saw.  Like most projects I do, this one was organic where construction plans change on the fly.

When we thought we were done the first time I stood back and eyeballed the shelf.  One of the rectangles formed by the shelving was whacked, despite us using a level to try to keep everything squared up.  Luckily we were able to just remove the screws of the affected shelves and reattach them in a more visually congruent method.  The shelf looked good in the bathroom although I miscalculated slightly.  When we picked the width of the shelf which would leave just enough room for the trashcan we forgot to add in the width of the shelving pieces, meaning the trash can no longer would fit.  That problem will be addressed by a new trash can.

I was tired of doing work so late afternoon I threw two of my wheels in the back of the truck.  I brought my low end $200 wheel to do some going backwards practice, not wanting to damage my expensive Msuper from all the falling that is part of learning to ride the opposite direction.  As expected I struggled a lot, not able to go more than a couple feet before falling off the wheel.  Once I scraped open my ankle I called it quits. In addition to the EUC video I also shot a 10,000 mile review of the Tacoma.

Saturday night Cindy and I stayed home and watched The BFG.  I thought the movie was sweet, endearing and very well done, an A rental.

Saturday night was a rough one in the sleep department due to dog activity.  Since Katie has moved in with us most weekends she is out late at night.  Well Bowser does not do well if left alone so Cindy has been trying to stay up with him.   Katie was out extra late Saturday night and Cindy was exhausted so she tried leaving Bowser in Katie’s room which seemed ok at first however he eventually started barking.  Elsa, who has been having some bathroom accidents lately had another one in early in the AM which was another prolonged sleep disturbance.  If I was lucky I may have gotten four hours of sleep Saturday night.

When we were up from the dogs I turned off the 6AM alarm to go run as I did not want to wake up Cindy if at all possible.  I instead woke up on my own around 7 and headed out.  I planned a very conservative run of two miles to see how my knee/IT band would respond.

I was hoping for some nice cool weather to run in.  Instead it was warm, humid and incredibly foggy.  The thermometer in the truck read 74 degrees.  I could instantly tell the nearly two month layoff from running was impacting me.  The run was slow and steady with some pain in my right leg early on that evened out as I continued.  Today it doesn’t feel horrible which is a positive.

When I got home Cindy was still in bed so I wanted to allow her to sleep as much as possible.  I went straight outside and did the chicken clean up in just my running shorts, the sweaty shirt went right in the laundry.

We had talked Saturday about going for a ride Sunday but it took until late morning for that to happen until Katie woke up from her late night.  We decided to go to the Greenway again since Cindy said she likes practicing there.  I brought both her wheel and the Minipro just in case she changed her mind.

It was a big day, Cindy made her most progress to date, riding at least a couple hundred feet without support multiple times as well as pulling off a couple free standing mount and goes in addition to some clean dismounts.  Her wheel hit the ground a few times but for the most part Cindy was able to bail cleanly which is another important skill.  It was funny, for the first time ever it was Cindy being the one extending the riding timeline.  She was actually having fun and excited as she kept building on her accomplishments.  Katie was sitting on a bench as Cindy kept chugging along. I was proud of her.  On the drive home Cindy talked a lot about how much fun she had.  Even though she had been able to stay upright prior to yesterday, I think yesterday was her true “click” moment where she actually was able to feel the fun instead of the fear.

Yesterday afternoon I made a run to Autozone to get coolant for Katie’s truck.  The Ram is losing coolant somewhere and more than once Katie has had to stop because the truck overheated as a result.  I could not see an obvious coolant leak but I wanted to make sure she at least had coolant on hand so she doesn’t get stranded.

To be honest her truck is a mess.  It costs a ton to operate between gas and repairs and is pretty much the worst possible vehicle she could own based on her current circumstances.  Cindy has tried to urge Katie to think about getting more sensible transportation but so far that effort has been unsuccessful.  If I have learned one thing living with a 23 year old is they don’t welcome advice much at all, regardless of the experience that leads to it.

The rest of the day I mostly chilled out with a lot of WoW thrown in.  I am hoping today is filled with a lot of what I feel like doing, my work quota for the three day weekend has been fulfilled.

 

 

So this morning the pool guy is supposed to show up to hopefully fix the leak at the pool pump as well doing a total replumb of most of the stuff on the concrete pad.  The pool heater is getting ripped out and the pool filter is going to be moved to it’s spot to allow as much room as possible for the RO system when it is installed.  I am hoping the work proceeds without incident.

I have another one of those wonderful government perks this weekend, getting off Monday for President’s Day.  After beating myself up pretty severely the last couple weekends with chicken fencing related projects I hope to have a less laborious three days ahead of me.

 

So even though we went out to our V-day dinner Saturday night I came up with the idea of picking up Carrabbas to Go for dinner last night so Cindy didn’t have to cook.   Evidently my idea was not unique, I sat in a line 10 cars deep at the restaurant waiting to pick up the food.  They seemed unprepared for the business as a single girl was running back and forth trying to sort out who got what.  I eventually just got out of my truck and walked inside to grab the food myself.  My bag was sitting on the counter along with a dozen other bags.  The drive home was miserable. Evidently an accident on 75 had diverted a ton of cars back into the non-interstate roadways causing a quagmire.  I didn’t get home till close to 6:30.

We had a nice night at home.  Cindy got me a couple practical gifts and I gave her a cool pair of white gold earrings I got from Costco.  The have a tiny leaf pattern in them which I thought was pretty and unique.

Today I am meeting a guy to get an estimate on whole house reverse osmosis.  I had the company that installed our current system give us a number and it was significantly higher than what this company advertises.  I heard about these guys from a friend that had their system replaced with RO and have been very pleased.  Not only is the up front costs less, they include one free year of monthly maintenance which I wasn’t getting from the first company either.  The expense for either system is considerable but what you are getting for the money is top quality water without any maintenance by the homeowner whatsoever.  They handle it all.  That scenario sounds pretty attractive at this stage in my life.

I have not really been commenting on the three ring circus which has been the Trump administration thus far.  I expected it to be a mess and it has been, perhaps even more so than I could have imagined.  Via a FB friend I stumbled across a site that allows you to track the buffoonery on a daily basis, whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com

As you flip through the day by day recollection of Trump administration events it seems rather surreal.  Check it out.

So Saturday I had another back breaking session of labor.  I loaded up the back of the Tacoma with 10 bags of mulch 10, bags of top soil, and 25 pieces of sod.  I was a bit annoyed and a little more amazed by the Hispanic family that was parked in front of both the mulch and sod, making my loading process more of a hassle.

They jammed an INCREDIBLE amount of things into their Ford Expedition SUV.  I saw at least 6 patio chairs, a table, a bunch of mulch, at least 20 pieces of sod, and at least a dozen medium sized potted variegated plants.  The vehicle had to be stuffed from ceiling to floor.  Oh, and the couple had to jam their three children in there as well somehow.

After they were done I was commenting to another customer about how amazing it was they managed to get all of that stuff inside the Ford.  The sod went on the back seat, that must have been neat and tidy.

So once I got home I got busy.  I parked the truck right outside the front gate of the new chicken grounds and used our little pull behind wagon to cart stuff into the fenced area.  I spread the mulch first.  A bunch of it went into the center of the chicken play area we created.  My thinking was I knew they loved digging through mulch around the yard so I wanted them to have their own collection of it.

The rest of the mulch was used around the pond and the small area that has the birds of paradise.  In the past couple years it had become pretty pointless to add mulch to landscaped beds because the chickens would destroy it with their endless scratching shortly thereafter.  It felt sort of strange to place mulch down and realize it would actually stay put, making those areas look nicer than they have in quite awhile.

I then worked on getting the top soil and sod down.  A lot of the grass went around the perimeter of the coop.  When the chickens dig, quite often they like to do it against some sort of structure.  Putting a thick sod border around the coop is one way to encourage the chickens to excavate elsewhere.  Even though the temperatures were nice and cool to start the day it quickly got warm.  I was out there a good five hours plodding away.  Even though I certainly did not enjoy it, having the chickens mulling around me wondering what I was doing most of the time made it less annoying.

I picked up Sadie Saturday morning so she had a bunch of crazy play time with Bowser and Elsa.  It seemed most of the time Bowser and Elsa would tag team Sadie which for the most part Sadie was ok with.  A couple times it got a little out of hand and Sadie let out a quick warning snarl that let the other dogs know a boundary had been reached.

I have had an issue with the connection to the outlet of the pool pump leaking for awhile.  I have tried to fix it by applying fresh pvc cement to the outside of the joint but it accomplished nothing.  The only way to fix it correctly is to rip that section out and replumb it to the input of the filter.  If pressed I could probably do it but with something like this my preference is to just pay a professional to do it to minimize the potential for future leaks.

So when I got more chlorine at Pinch-a-Penny I made arrangements to have someone come out to do the work.  In addition to fixing that section I am also going to have them pull out the pool heater that has been broken for at least five years.  Once it is pulled out they will have to replumb the lines some more.  Even when the pool is warm in the summer we hardly use it, putting in a new pool heater would be a huge waste of money not only in up front costs but also the ridiculous impact it has on my electric bill.

On Saturday night Cindy and I went on our Valentines Day dinner early to Stir Crazy.  We invited Katie along as well as we didn’t want her sitting home being bummed out.  The food was good but our waitress, Nicole was pretty awful.  From the first word out of her mouth you could tell she hated being a waitress.  Although the entrees came out lightning fast, things that seemingly did not require much preparation like draft beer and desert had these inexplicable delays.  She brought out plates and forks for desert 10 minutes before the desert actually arrived.  We actually got the check before we got desert.  It was bizarre.  Nicole did not clean up in the tip department as a result.

Sunday morning I was up pretty early.  I gave Cindy a break from chicken duties since she does it pretty much every other day.  Katie had said she was interested in riding EUCs Sunday morning but was still asleep so I kept myself busy for awhile.  First I put my Mavic up to get some more updated aerial video of the additional improvements we made to the chicken area.  I am still fumbling around trying to figure out everything the drone can do.  I have only grazed the surface thus far.

I then sat down and paid my bills for the week which took extra long since it was credit card reconciliation time which is tedious and annoying.  Katie was still asleep so I grew tired of waiting, I didn’t want to have half the day pass before getting out.  I was just loading the truck up to head out on my own when she came out of the room.  She said she still wanted to go so instead of a solo trek, Cindy and her piled in the truck for a ride at the Greenway.

The weather was really nice for riding and we were having a great time.  When people see us on the wheels it is very common to get comments like “Wow, that’s cool!”, “What is that??” and other statements of intrigue or interest.  Well as I was exiting one of the boardwalk areas I passed an older couple whom were obviously not born in the US based on their accent.  As I was passing them the old man says, “the sign (at entrance of the boardwalk) says no motor vehicles”  I at first thought the guy was just being funny as universally, we have never had anyone be negative about our EUC riding.  I told him in a friendly voice, “well this is basically like an electric bicycle” (bikes are allowed).

Well the old prick continued “well that thing still has a motor doesn’t it???”  Instantly I lost all patience with this guy.  I now used my overtly sarcastic, fake friendly voice as I told him.  “well why don’t you go ahead and report us then.  Have a great day!”  as I rode away from him.   They walked by me again when I was stopped by Cindy who was practicing on Katie’s EUC.  The guy had no additional commentary for me, good for him.

Like I said, Cindy who rode the MiniPro for most of the ride got more practice in on the boardwalk on Katie’s wheel.  Cindy likes the height of the rail as a support if needed.  She did well, riding without support for 50-75 feet a couple times.  She stepped off it a bit awkwardly during her last roll and called it quits.  When I was learning I always made sure the last ride I did was not a fail.  I think it helps a lot to get right back on and have one more small success before stopping.  It just helps build confidence going forward.

After the ride we stopped and grabbed lunch at a pizza place.  The main pizza maker used to work with Katie at her old waitress job, his name was Tommy.  I could immediately tell he was from NYC.  I don’t know if you could find a more stereotypical pizza guy.  He looked and talked exactly as you would imagine.  He was very funny and had all of us laughing throughout the meal.  The pizza was very good.

We didn’t get home until after two.  Cindy was shocked when she discovered Kristen, our white chicken outside the fence.  She was able to quickly grab her and put her back before Bowser could react.  When reviewing the security dvr she saw the escape on video.  Kristin was able to simply fly up to the cross post and jump over.

Well obviously we can’t have that and chickens have a lemming mentality, when they see one do something they are apt to try it as well.  We had to do some wing clipping.  We only trimmed the wings of four of the ten chickens, Pumpkin, Peaches, Stephie, and of course Kristin.  They are the smaller birds with good flying/jumping ability.  The process only takes 30 seconds per bird so it wasn’t bad.  Early on when the chickens became adults we had issues with a few of them flying over the main fence but they eventually stopped trying.  We are hoping they come to the same conclusion with the new fence as well.

I got some WoW time in the rest of the day as well as some backyard EUC riding just for fun.  Tonight I need to go to a jewelry repair place to get my beloved Casio G-shock watch repaired.  I broke the main pin that connects the band to the watch body when I was chasing down Bowser a couple weeks ago.  The attempts I made to replace the pin myself have been utter fails.

 

Last night before dinner I wanted to get a quick ride in before dinner so I hopped on my Msuper and headed to the first cross street.  I quietly carved back and forth as I traveled both ends of the street under the bright full moon.  It always feels good to just get out and ride.  Even brief 10-15 minute sessions like last night helps clear the mind and dull some of the sharp things jabbing me in my daily grind.

I was surprised and happy to hear that Cindy was actually out on her wheel in the backyard yesterday practicing, using the new chicken fence as a support.  She said she actually launched herself away from the safety of the fence a few times and free wheeled it.  She said she feels less danger when the potential for falling is on grass instead of asphalt or concrete.

So today on my way to work I had two annoying things happen with my Tacoma.  Shortly after pulling out of the driveway the RPMs on the truck jumped way up, it almost felt like the truck was in neutral.  I immediately backed off the gas.  After doing so when I reapplied the gas the truck felt normal but it concerns me because of the widespread transmission issues that have been reported with the new Tacomas.  I already had mine at the dealer once to have a reprogramming done to the transmission controller to address shifting problems.

Then about five minutes later my information center lights up with alternating ABS/BSM warning lights, the same problem the truck spent 3-4 days at the dealer for a couple months ago.  At that time they replaced the driver side wheel sensor and the problem had not reappeared, until today.

I have to say my new Tacoma ownership experience has not been as smooth as I had hoped it would be.  These various electronic gremlins, transmission issues, and dealing with a shitty dealer have been the source of a lot of frustration, the sort of frustration you hope to avoid by buying a new vehicle.  I turned the truck off and on which made the error disappear but I am pretty sure it will be back.

This weekend I hope to do one more big load of sod and topsoil to raise certain areas in the new chicken run and patch up areas that are bare.  It is always dirty, unfun work but I am hoping it will be the last of it for a little while.  I’d like to take the wheels down to Marco this weekend to try riding around the hilly areas.  We will see how that works out.

It is one of those days where I am fighting the urge to throw a bunch of  memes here that sometimes express thoughts and feelings in a far quicker and funnier way than a paragraph of words can.

Yesterday Cindy continued the work in the new chicken area, laying a bunch of sod along the fence line where the ground was low.  Of course new sod needs consistent water so we have been dragging a hose out there to try to do the work.  I am considering relocating the one sprinkler we have near one front corner of the fence to the middle of the new fenced area to make that job more automatic.  The idea of doing more excavation work at the moment doesn’t sound appealing as I am still trying to heal up form the fence work.

One of the weirdest injuries I incurred during the work was to the big toe on my left foot.  Being in my rubber boots all day on Saturday somehow managed to push the toenail back and up, leaving the toe in a very tender state.  The area around the nail is all red and I am assuming the nail is going to fall off eventually.  I have to be very careful putting on socks and any sort of footwear that compresses the toes in any manner are off limits.  My dreams of being a foot model are over.

I officially listed one of my electric unicycles for sale the other day, the MCM4.  This is the wheel I originally bought for Cindy for Christmas but it turned out she liked the style of wheel that Katie has better. The wheel is practically new and I went ahead and put larger pedals on it several weeks ago.  It’s a much smaller wheel than the Msuper and has the coolest LED light configuration of any of my wheels.

The reason it is for sale is I am interested in a new 84V model of a Gotway wheel and although I could outright just buy it but I am forcing myself to get rid of a wheel before getting another.  You know sort of like Trump’s brilliant executive order that if you add a regulation you need to get rid of two.  I like to follow his lead wherever possible.

I listed the wheel on the electric unicycle forum and our local FB yard sale group but have not gotten any bites yet.  It is a unique item that is not going to have mass appeal so I am prepared to be patient.

 

 

Yesterday was the last day of my four day weekend, the first three of which had been almost entirely consumed by fence construction.   So although the chickens are now secured within their smaller confines there is still more to do.

Cindy and I wanted to do some things to the area to offer the chickens some more protection, shade and entertainment.  Cindy and I did a run to Home Depot in the morning to get a few palms, top soil, and sod.  Unfortunately they had absolutely no sod so that part had to be put on hold.

When we got home we went right to work.  I spread the top soil along the portion of the fence line that was a little off the ground because of low spots.  We will then drop sod on top which will eventually grow through the fencing to lock it to the ground.  We also used a combination of left over fence posts and left over lumber scraps to make a “chicken deck”.  I did not spend much time leveling or squaring corners, I sort of wanted the structure to be haphazard looking.  Cindy had the idea of putting some of our old tires down a rail in the middle to give the chickens something to go under and/or through.  We planted palms around all four sides which will hopefully provide a nice shady hang out spot as they grow. I took the other three tires we had and buried them halfway in the ground to give the birds something else to hide in on jump onto.

Early in the morning I put my Mavic up in the air to get some aerial shots of the end result of our three days of fencing labor.

Mid-afternoon, despite still having a very sore back and other fence building ailments I got the idea to go take my Msuper to the swamp to ride around.  Cindy, Katie and I had talked about doing it at some point and I thought it would be cool if I went and scouted it out ahead of time to see how suitable the path is for one wheel riding.

I drove the Tacoma there instead of riding to the swamp. Very early on I ran into obstacles on the boardwalk.  Someone strung some pink caution tape across marking a huge foot or more section of decking that had fallen out.  That boardwalk is in very, very bad shape.  I won’t be surprised if they close it down for awhile so they can replace all of the decking sometime soon.

So as I exited the boardwalk and onto the walking path for the first time ever on an EUC.  I was VERY cautious at the onset and it was necessary as the compacted trail had a ton of exposed roots, waiting to knock me off.

My original idea was to maybe go a couple miles into the swamp, just as a test.  However I was enjoying the ride, despite the additional complexity of the terrain.  I found myself at the portion where the trail becomes one big loop.  Once you head in it’s a long time until you come back out.  I decided to go for it.

So up until that point I had really not seen any wildlife outside of birds.  About 10 minutes into the loop that changed.  I saw a long black obstacle half on the path.  Of course I knew it was a gator.  I have experienced this before when I rode the trail on mountain bike with Randall.  At that time we just gave the gator as much room as possible and rode by as quickly as we could.  I decided to use the same strategy although I felt more vulnerable being on a single wheel instead of two.  I accelerated past the large gator without it flinching.

Within another few minutes I encountered another large gator and this one had me more concerned because there was a much smaller gator next to it.  I theorized this could possible be a mother gator with one of it’s kids.  This scenario held more danger in my eyes because I have heard how female gators can get very aggressive if they feel their kids are endangered.  I stood there for a minute or two weighing my options.  Even though the gators had their heads facing the water, I was imagining a scene where one or both of them suddenly flailed, knocking me off the wheel.  I was genuinely scared when I took a deep breath and launched myself in their direction.  I zipped by them without either moving a fraction of an inch, whew…..

What followed from that point was pretty surreal.  I rode by at least a couple dozen gators on the path and saw many more in the trenches and water by the path.  The ride around the loop seemed to go on forever.  It went from exciting to ridiculous eventually.  Not only did I have to deal with the gators, I was dealing with terrain that was beating the hell out of me.  The ruts and roots were taking a toll on my already sore back.  At one point a hidden rut threw me off the wheel right by another large gator.  Luckily the sound of the crash scared the reptile into the water.

As I was deep into the swamp I did think repeatedly how it was not the smartest of things to make this trek solo.  If I hurt myself or the wheel died for some reason I was on my own and depending on spotty phone service in the area, out of reach of help.  I knew at that point my only option was to keep moving forward.  There were a couple areas of the trail that were washed out.  One point was really treacherous with the only path across the water being a couple small logs haphazardly thrown across the ditch.  I carefully walked across the logs while trying to balance the 45 pound wheel in my left hand, freaking out about the possibility of me falling into the muddy water with my expensive electronic unicycle.

Finally I found my way back to the feeder path that lead back to the parking lot.  I was very relieved to return to the truck and resolute that I don’t need to ever do that entire loop again on a single wheel.  Once was enough.  I highly recommend you set a half hour aside to watch the video of the ride.  You get a good sense of just how nuts it was at certain points.

It has been another one of those “vacations” that I am glad to get back to work from.  My body feels like it was thrown into a grinder.

 

So as soon as I woke up yesterday the first thing I did was pop two Advil.  I knew the only way I was going to be able to get through a third day of fence labor was medicated.  My back, knees, arms, and hands were all killing me. Cindy had two classes to teach in the morning so that left me in the back yard solo to attach the 100 foot rolls of 4 foot welded wire fencing to the posts we spent two days erecting.

So once again my prior experience with doing a fence helped me out as I did a lot of the backyard fence myself as well.  I basically would roll out the spool of wire along the fence line and then haphazardly stand it up against the posts.  I then would hammer in a shitload of fence staples into the far end corner post.

I then position my Tacoma off the other end which I used as my pulling point.  I attached my fence stretcher to the tow hitch on the truck and the other end to a pipe I threaded through the fence.  I had a steel cable that was attached to either end of the pipe to give me a more or less even pull from the top and bottom.  I then started to ratchet the fence stretcher which would slowly take the slack out of the fence and get it nice and tight.  I then would go back to the far end and start hammering in staples in each post while the fence is still stretched to maintain as much tension as possible.  When I finally got back to opposite corner post I again sunk a ton of fence staples and then cut the spool of wire.

Even though I had not done this work in a long time things went pretty smoothly.  Cindy was amazed that by the time she got home I was just finishing up the third side.  She helped me do the front of the fence line which was split in two halves by the gate.  We actually had to splice together the one side because I did not have a long enough piece left over.  I was really happy how we managed to make the seam pretty much invisible unless you were looking for it.

Finally the last small section was stretched and attached.  It felt great to have my three days of intense labor at an end.  I spent close to an hour cleaning up all of the tools, parts, and left over materials that were scattered around the yard.  Of course there is more labor to come to “furnish” the backyard to offer the chickens more protection, shade, high ground and fun.

So after clean up we were able to lure the chickens into their new area.  They seemed a bit confused and sad to not have access to the entire back yard as they have their entire lives.  I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty but I knew in the big picture this was going to be a good thing.  Not only do we have to work on the chickens new area but we also have to work on cleaning up and repairing the rest of the yard that they have systematically ripped apart in their chicken sort of way.

Last night I was so tired and sore I just wanted to veg out.  Today I hope to do at least something fun although I know a trip to Home Depot in the morning is on the schedule to at least get a few basic things to get the chickens rolling in their new yard.

I was up and outside early Saturday morning ready to begin hopefully my last fencing project in my lifetime.  Things got off to a slow start as Cindy and I had some confusion about the layout I had outlined with rebar and mason line.  Even though to the eye it looked like a pretty even rectangle the measuring tape showed otherwise.  It was showing such a difference that I went back and measured twice to make sure I didn’t misread it the first time.  Even after we were done tweaking the numbers didn’t totally match up but it looked good to the eye which is all I cared about.  We weren’t fencing the Taj Majal, just our 10 chickens.

So finally I broke ground on the first corner post.  I decided I would start in the rear of the fenced in area.  I figured I would rather “practice” my technique in the back and have all the rust knocked off by the time I got to the front which we will see everyday.  My plan was to do all of the corner posts first as they are the most important and most grueling to dig since each one requires a three and a half feet hole to be dug.

The posts I got from Jack and Ann’s were far from straight. Most of them had bends in them which made leveling a pain in the ass.  We would just do our best compensating for the curves.  I guess it makes the fence look more “rustic”.  Cindy and Katie helped me some as well, digging some of the smaller holes for the line posts as well as back filling them.

We took a break during the afternoon to run to Rural King for a couple things I needed, most importantly two 8 foot posts to frame the front gate.  We brought Bowser and Elsa with and took Katie’s Dodge Ram, the only vehicle in the house that would hold three people, two dogs, and have room to carry fence posts.  I drove, my first time behind the wheel of a Ram, it is a very big vehicle.  This was Bowsers first time in RK, he was VERY excited.

When we got home I was ready to go full tilt back into fencing.  We all worked until the sun was setting.  I had all corner posts in the ground as well as having all of the line posts in except for one side.  I felt good about what we accomplished.  I took Katie and Cindy out to dinner Saturday night to thank them for their hard work.

I awoke Sunday morning sore but popped a couple Advil to mask the pain.  The fog kept the temps nice and cool early on which I took advantage of to get the rest of the line posts in.  It felt good to know I at least had dug my last hole.

I then started on the next phase of the corner posts, installing cross members and using brace wire to lock it all together.  If you have ever installed wood post fencing you will know this is not a very fun job.  I again started in the back since it had been probably close to 10 years since I last did post work.  The technique came back to me quickly.  I had the left rear corner done before we took a mid-morning EUC ride break.  We went down to North Collier Park to ride around.  It definitely felt good to do something fun amidst all of the unfun work the weekend had been filled with.

Once again when we returned I was full fence mode.  I was so focused I forgot to take another dose of Advil which really hurt me later. It took me the rest of the day to get the cross posts and brace wire installed everywhere it needed to be.  I thought I was going to run out of brace wire and actually had Cindy and Katie run to Rural King to get me more.  It turned out I just had enough with a couple feet to spare.

My body was absolutely destroyed by the end of the day.  My left big toe felt like the nail was coming off, my hands and forearms were paralyzed from all the gripping and twisting and my back  had jolts of pain radiating through it if I tried to do anything beside sit still.  My body just can not hold up to this type of work anymore.

I took a shower before sitting down to watch the Super Bowl, the first year I have not had an official Super Bowl party in a long time.  Ali and I used to have them as well.  This year the circumstances just didn’t seem conducive to holding a party and by the time we even took a breath to think about it, it was a week ago, too short of a notice.  Of course the fencing project would have made being a party host even more of an impossibility.

It was different being able to just sit and enjoy the game instead of dealing with all of the ancillary party host things.  It turns out that if there was ever a year to be able to pay full attention to a game this was it, probably the most amazing game in Super Bowl history.  Early on it was crazy because the Falcons were dominating, something nobody would have expected.  At one point they were up 28-3.  I believe I saw a stat that no team has ever come back from more than 10 point deficit in Super Bowl history.  I, like most others assumed the Patriots were done.

Well the comeback was nothing short of miraculous.  There were so many things that went the Patriots way, penalties against the Falcons to keep a drive alive, Matt Ryan taking a stupid, massive sack to knock the Falcons out of game icing field goal range and of course THE CATCH, where Edelman gets his fingers under a ball that was bouncing off three Atlanta defenders, a fraction of an inch from the ground.  The Patriots had to convert on two two point conversions just to force the game to overtime.  It was just an unbelievable series of events.

After driving the team down the field in overtime to score the Patriots their 31st unanswered point to win Super Bowl 51, Tom Brady pretty much locked up his title as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.  Love him or hate him, the guy delivers in the clutch like no other QB I have seen in my lifetime.  To put on that sort of performance in those conditions was just insane and something I doubt will ever be replicated again.

It wasn’t like Atlanta went into some soft prevent either, they were still applying pressure throughout the entire comeback, Brady just made plays anyway.  Falcon fans must feel like they were told they had a winning lottery ticket only to have it blow out a window in the middle of a hurricane.

So today I begin day three of the fencing project.  To be honest going in I thought I possibly would have been able to get it all wrapped up in two days.  As is often the case, my estimate was not accurate.  I am just hoping my body, heavily supplemented by Advil is up to the task.