Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Building and fixing, part 2 {in which I amaze myself}

Measure twice, cut again.

Measure twice, cut again.

My accomplishments from the past year started with my mailbox. It was knocked down one night about a year ago by someone who backed into it (from what I could tell by the tire tracks down the driveway). It threw me for a tailspin—oh dear, what to do, what to do—and after looking for someone (a man) to help me (wanted to hire someone) I realized I would have to do it myself. And I did! A 3-foot-deep post hole, quick-crete, and a bag or two of gravel plus a little phone coaching from a male friend and the new one is WAY better than the one that got knocked down. What a rush! I put reflectors on the side of the post, to hopefully make it more visible. So far so good.

View from the post hole.

View from the post hole.

This summer I decided to get serious about building a hay feeder for the sheep. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post or six, the ongoing issue of wasted hay and ruined fleeces has created this ongoing Grail-like quest for The Perfect Sheep Feeder.  One that also fits my small farm, set up, and doesn’t set me back a half-a-month’s pay.  As a sheep friend says, “if there was one, someone would surely have thought of it long before us.” But I was getting desperate. After first Googling images for sheep feeders, I was led to a blog that had something that looked promising.  I went to Home Depot, excited to get started, and left in tears of frustration, again, at the lack of/or useless help there (it’s like I’m wearing Precious when I’m in there) and I almost gave up. Then, mulling over my options, in a flash of genius I decided to go to a local lumber store chain, Dunn Lumber. And after my experience there, I am now a fan of Dunn Lumber. For. Life. Not only did the staff there know what they were doing, they were actually willing and able to help me, taking my crudely sketched plans and dimensions and helping me refine measurements and quantity needed.  AND, to top it off, they cut all the lumber into the exact sizes needed.  This is HUGE for me, since cutting with the circular saw—especially plywood sheets—is a bit of a challenge.

The frame.  And Farley's soggy tennis ball.

The frame. And Farley’s soggy tennis ball.

The help.

The help.

It’s not the prettiest feeder in the world (built without a t-square…now I get why you need one), but it works.  I was so jazzed with my accomplishment that I went back a week later and got more wood plus wheels (and instructions and parts for installing them) for a portable version to use in the pasture.  Dunn Lumber ROCKS!  I purchased a t-square for this one, though you can’t really tell.  I was winging it, flush with my success, and didn’t really have a good plan drawn up.  The lambs’ propensity to hop inside the feeder (where it doubled as a toilet when they felt the need) caused most of the “hash” effects, as I added more slats, somewhat haphazardly, to keep them out.  Oh well.  It works, and the sheep aren’t complaining.

Barely installed and a huge hit from the start.

Barely installed and a huge hit from the start.

After my triumphs with the hay feeders (I built two functioning hay feeders – ME!), I finally tackled the downspout in the sheep shed.  The fellow I hired 4 years ago never finished it, and I’ve been puzzling out how to do it for most of that time.  I needed to attach to the French drain, and then figure out the over, around and down angle to the part that goes from the gutter to the down drain, and on top of it all, make it all both sheep proof and sheep safe.  Wa-Laa!  [sp]  Again, it’s not perfect, but it fills all the requirements and it works!

Form follows function...right?  It ain't pretty but it works.

Form follows function…right? It ain’t pretty but it works.

This November my Krups espresso maker blew a gasket.  I didn’t realize at the time that was literally the truth of it, and just figured that after 8 or 9 years it had just reached the end of the line.  I did some research and bought a new espresso maker – different make and model – and was underwhelmed with the results.  It sat next to the mothballed Krups (I wasn’t sure how/where to toss the Krups, looking for a small appliance recycler). The replacement was all jazzy and shiny-new, cute and round, but mostly it was plastic cheapness and took two forevers to make a single mocha. I didn’t want to spend a lot, since I only make, at most, two mochas a week, but still, I debated what to do with it—return or just live with it.



I tipped the old Krups over one Saturday, desperately thinking (after the Chinese fire drill of making a mocha on the new model) that maybe it just needed a good cleaning or something.  And I found the rubber gasket, nearly shredded with deterioration after hundreds and hundreds of espresso shots over the past 8 years or so.  I found a replacement gasket online for $2.50 (with postage almost twice that); I got it a week later and was in business.  I returned the new, replacement model, and saved myself $80 in the process (ultimately $180, since the replacement model Krups runs nearly $200).  Yay me!

Insert Aerosmith soundtrack.  Do do do dih, do do dih doo.... Back in the Saddle agaiiin.

Insert Aerosmith soundtrack. Do do do do, do do do dooo…. Back in the Saddle agaiiin.

Also in November I had to change a flat tire on my car for the first time in my life.  It doesn’t sound like much maybe, but it was another of those “wow, really I got this” moments (with the owners manual instructions and a little pep-talk coaching from friends via Facebook).  It was in my own driveway, so even though it was dark out, I was able to do it safely and then head to the gas station for air, then to the tire store the next morning for a patch.  I did it all by myself instead of calling for roadside assistance and was quite proud of myself.  It was a huge sense of accomplishment for me, as this kind of thing has always been firmly in the “man job” territory.

Not quite Aerosmith or Rocky - yet!  I got this.

Not quite Aerosmith or Rocky – yet! I got this.

Lastly, I fixed my refrigerator.  Sort of.*  It’s been having this issue of ice forming in the bottom of the freezer compartment, and when there’s too much water, the shallow depression overflows and leaks out the door onto the floor (causing some warping to the wood floor there).  I Googled the issue, wondering what the heck it could be on a not-even-five-year-old refrigerator.  I found an appliance website with some great tutorial videos that explained what was happening.  [And may I just say what a great time to be alive this is, with this kind of information literally at your fingertips?] I purchased the part I thought I needed (mail order again, but less than $30 compared to a minimum 5x that amount for a repairman, and that’s not including lost income from the time away from work waiting) and dithered about getting to it.  One thing or another intervened, but I finally had time to pull the freezer all apart, melt the ice on the coils behind the metal sheeting in back, and then go around to the back to replace the valve underneath where the water normally should drain out.  The p-trap part I bought was actually exactly what was already installed (without even looking I had just figured my fridge was exactly like the one in the YouTube video), so I just made sure the line was clear and put everything back together.  I’m not sure why the drain hole froze shut, but have a feeling it may have been during a power outage, where just enough melted before the power came back on and then froze in place.  It doesn’t really make sense, but I’ll keep an eye on it.  Now that I know I can do it.  It wasn’t a piece of cake, but it was easy.

*Fridge update.  The drain hole froze up again within two weeks of my thaw/repair so it was back to Google.  I think I found the solution and I have a plan.  And if it works, I’ll need to write a letter to the Whirlpool refrigerator engineers (Fail!).

Gratuitous cuteness. My Daisy-woo.

Gratuitous cuteness. My Daisy-woo.


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7 thoughts on “Building and fixing, part 2 {in which I amaze myself}

  1. Laurie on said:

    I’m waaaaaay impressed. You ROCK, girlfriend, seriously! 🙂

  2. Great work! Really impressive. And shows that both local friendly shops and the internet have a useful place in our lives.

  3. mcfwriter on said:

    Thanks, Emily! The lumber store experience was a real eye opener. They might be a little more expensive than the big box stores but both the superior quality and the support are more than worth paying a few dollars more. I have been recommending them to everyone!

  4. We live in such a misogynistic age–the only way we women can retain any sense of self-worth is to learn to take care of ourselves! Be proud and teach others . . .

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