May 7, 2014

Wild Game. Na, na, na-na-na.

Ok, so the title is redundant. 

I am convinced that if Walter and I learned how to hunt and develop proficient gardening skills. We would never have to grocery shop again.

Why? Well, there are the deer, of course.

(If only I could rid myself the traumatic memories of Bambi losing his mother-- oh yeah, and there's small task of learning to skin and clean it). AND just in the last two weeks, we now have wild turkey (at least one). There's also rabbit and squirrel if we really wanted to get our game on.

While we were working outside the Saturday before Easter, a turkey swooped in and landed in our yard. Walter called out for me to look and I saw it, but couldn't get my camera ready in time.

However, Sunday, while I was sitting at the computer desk (typing up blog posts no doubt), I saw a big animal in our tall, tall grass. I thought it might be a cat or dog, but it was a turkey just munching away.

Our grass is probably a foot and a half tall, so this guy/girl? isn't as small as he seems... our mowers are broken.
In my usual nature of not being prepared, I didn't have my zoom lens on. I did have my camera at least so I was able to snap a few shots of our fowl friend. Not the best, but more evidence that if we really put our minds to it (and could break our years of fast food addiction-- is there counseling for that?) we could be one step closer to living off the grid.

May 6, 2014

Then and Now: The Main Floor

Sometimes it feels like the latter. In fact, looking at the pictures of this time last year almost had me thinking we should have left it all alone because right now... well, we've either got nothing or we've got a mess. That phrase it get's worse before it gets better, we're putting that to the test.

Just like last year's Easter weekend was productive, this year's was too. As I said before Walter's aunt and uncle came in and helped us tremendously. One of the major things they did was come over on Good Friday and help Walter pull out all the venting and wire. When I got home from work, they had been working almost all afternoon, and by six or so that evening it was all gone!

This is another one of those before and after posts to show how the house looked when we bought it and what it looks like now. I tried to take photos from the same spot to really capture the difference. Enjoy!

May 5, 2014

Support system

The people who built our rock house built it with an impressive amount of resourcefulness and durability. This house is solid no doubt. Both barns and houses were supported with logs.

One of the support beams for the  rock house.
Yet, over time, the water in the basement has begun to rot the wooden beams. Replacing them was something we knew we had to do. Now, that the destructions over and we're ready to put the house back together again, the time was right.

In the rock house, there were five log supports that needed replacing. The one shown in the picture was the least rotted of all of them and still holding strong.

Here's a little walkthrough of the steps taken to replace our log supports with jack posts.

Materials: jack posts (enough for each support beam to be replaced), hydraulic jacks (we used two), boards (cut to fill void from hydraulic jack to horizontal support beam),  hammer, and a level


1. First, we measured and cut some scrap 2X4's to sit on top of the hydraulic jack. They are cut a little shorter than touching the support beam since the jack will make up the difference.

2. We placed a hydraulic jack on either side of the log support that was being replaced. Put the 2X4 on it and began to raise it until it touched the support beam (enough tension to stay without being held, but not so much it can't be moved).

3. Next to each hydraulic jack was one support jack which we raised to equal the height of the hydraulic.

4. Walter used a level to make sure the 2X4 was plum before we raised the height of the jack any further. He used a hammer to move it into position.

5. Once both were level, both the hydraulic jacks and the jack posts were raised until the log post was no longer bearing any weight.

6. He removed the old post and replaced it with a new post (plum the post, use level to do this). Then, he slowly lowered all four jacks back down (reverse of everything above, basically).

I should note that Walter did a practice run (without releasing the weight from the log). Then, I went with him and we ran through the whole process again. We got a little nervous, and held off. The third time was the charm. On Saturday, Walter's dad came by which gave him the support (bad pun) courage he needed to go through with the job. It was an intimidating of a task when you think about how important those supports are (and when you hear the whole house crack).


Here you can see the damage the log recived from the
water in the basement. You couldn't tell it had rotted
like this until it was taken out.

Walter and his dad replaced two of the five support beams on Saturday. They still need to be bolted in and secured with concrete to be up to code.

The smaller beams make the basement feel a lot larger and more open. They also make it much easier to build walls if we wanted to finish the basement later on (after we solve the water problem!)

May 4, 2014

In the Garden

Just yesterday, I was out in the garden with Mom and Dad searching for signs of new life in the garden. We saw some new growth, but it wasn't evident if it was good new growth (vegetables) or bad new growth (weeds). 
We were going to try to get some of the weeds out, but it was too hard to tell. So, we just marked the plant rows with some markers I had been working on (to replace the seed packets lying under rocks).

According to Dad, the garden looked like a burial ground. And it did. I walked away hoping I wasn't marking the ground in homage of a bunch of dead plants. I was hoping that soon, I would be able to see some new life springing up.

Today, I went down to water my thirsty marigolds and saw a row of broccoli and some sunflowers popping up. 
Sunflower sprouting.
I was so excited, I immediately started snapping photos. (I couldn't get close enough to the broccoli for fear I would step on something trying to grow.)

I watered all the little seedlings I recognized. I'll continue watering and after a little while longer of growth, I plan to lay down some pathways, pull weeds, and, possibly, mulch to keep more weeds out.

I'll probably have to make some more room for my marigolds to spread out as well.

I also bought some flowers yesterday to plant around our little cottage. Spring is just full of things to do! I hope I can keep up with it all!

Then and Now: Garage

We haven't done a lot of work to the garage except patch the leaky roof. That was necessary so we could store all of our materials. The garage still has some painting that needs done as well as doors put on and holes patched. But for right now, we are focusing on the houses.

The biggest change is the piles of wood, trim and doors filling the once empty garage. Here's a look:


Then: The only door we had on the garage.

Now: Walter and his dad put up a door in place of the other.


We'll eventually paint and fill in the holes. But that'll come in time.