I’m talking to one of my friends on the phone last night, and she ends the call by saying, “Hope everything works out okay with your donkey business… [pause]…Oh god. I totally just said that out loud in the grocery store.”
So, yeah. Let me tell you how things are going with the donkey business. Actually, let’s just kick this off with 72 hour before-and-after, the likes of which has never been seen on this website before:
I never say that shit, but it just feels appropriate. Like I waved a magic cannon in the air and, Boom! Finished donkey barn. Except instead of a magic cannon, I just spent three days working my ass off. (Just go ahead and assume from here on out that any “ass” references are pun intended.) By working my ass off, I mean hauling, shoveling, raking, sawing, hammering, swearing (oh, the swearing), and getting all sorts of unsavory barn debris in my effing mouth. Have you ever had a 20 year old cobweb in your mouth before? No? I’m pretty sure there’s a special ring of Hell dedicated to that particular type of torture.
So, in lieu of magic, here’s how the actual work went down. I’ve literally been thinking about building this stall and putting in the electric fence non-stop for a week, so when it came time to actually physically build it, things went pretty quick.
Since I won’t be able to trench for electric until spring, I stretched 150 feet of extension cord out to the barn to power the electric fence. And also to power my temporary workspace in the barn.
Yes, I do own two miter saws. Don’t judge.
So, as far as constructing the stall, I wanted to use the existing 12×12 beams (for real, people, twelve-by-twelve… they did not mess around with piddly supports 150 years ago), but I decided I wanted to do this right and include a gate to the stall from inside the barn which meant adding my own piddly 4×4 supports where appropriate.
One of my favorite tools for actually DIYing it (as in, doing it without another person around to hold the other end of the board) is my cordless finish nailer. I used it to tack the fencing in place and then went back and fastened everything with deck screws.
The big challenge of the weekend, however, was building the gate…
Seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult, but, of course, I built the thing without really factoring in how the hinges worked, and then had to take it all apart and cut it down by an inch to get it opening and closing properly.
Let me just tell you… installing a gate with spring-loaded hinges by yourself is something that only happens to people who are clearly paying the karmic price for having installed a toilet on carpeting in a past life. Not fun.
This many extra screw holes is a sign that the person on the other end of the drill does not know what in the shit they are doing.
I’ll own it only because I got it to work in the long run.
The rest of the barn isn’t looking too bad either…
That area will be hay/straw storage for this winter. Over the summer I’d like to replace the loft that used to be above the stall area and store the hay up there next year.
I do still have a few pallets of miscellanous crap to move, but right now it’s not in the way, so I may do it when it’s not 17 degrees out.
Or I may do it tomorrow. You just never know with me.
Either way, I am just a few bales of straw (for bedding) and one electric fence away from being ready for my little boys to come home.
I temporarily staked out the winter pasture, but I’m not really setting the posts and stringing the wire until I know exactly when I can bring them home.
It’s been an amazing couple of days, and can I tell you something? This has literally, hands down, been my favorite 72 hours at the Liberty House so far. And I thought I was going to hate it, mostly because I don’t like working outside in the cold. (Go ahead and say it: wuss.) But if I could paint a picture of my perfect day, it would be getting up early (after an actual good nights sleep), planning out my day over a cup of tea, making a quick run to the hardware store before the masses are out and about, spending the whole morning outside making sawdust, building stuff, being just a little amazed at what I can accomplish when I’m not being interrupted by emails every 30 seconds, coming in for a hot lunch, spending some time writing, and then heading back out to work until dusk.
This has been the best vacation I’ve had in a long time, and just affirms what this house has been telling me for the last year… that deep down I have the heart of a farmer.
I was a little nervous going into this adventure that I wouldn’t be able to handle the addition of “farm chores” to my already full schedule, but every farmer I’ve ever known managed to take care of the farm and still work a job, and so will I.
I’m not sure when I’ll get to go meet my little guys today, but I’ll definitely update this post with pictures once I do!
WARNING: If you look at this picture you’re going to want to come live with me out in the middle of nowhere, just so you can hug these little fluffy donkey faces every single day. And I do not have enough bedrooms for all of you.
They are just the sweetest, most loving little guys ever. You can tell because this is what happens when you try to take a picture of a donkey, and he’s all, “Stop with that camera business and give me a hug.”
Actually, if we’re going to be completely honest, it was a little more like meltdown. Not when I was at the farm, mind you, but about 20 minutes later when I’m in the store looking at electric fence insulators, and all of the sudden I’m like, “What is wrong with my eyes that I can’t read these packages? Oh, wait, I’m standing in the middle of Tractor Supply with tears streaming down my face. That’s awesome.”
Hey, listen, sometimes you just have to have a good little cry over fencing supplies, and then everything is right in the world and you can get back to building shit.
Now I’m going to buck up and go spend the last few hours of my vacation putting in a fence.