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Archive for the ‘Building’ Category
Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Well, at least the perennial garden plants will have plenty of snow cover this winter. We just got another five inches today. I can’t lie and say I wish winter would stay for months and months. I’m about ready for spring! At least we aren’t suffering like some folks on the East and West Coasts are, though, with flooding and big snowstorms. We just do our chores and throw another log on the fire.
But chores are sometimes challenging. Like today when we had to set big round bales out and water the big livestock. The wind was blowing, snow falling sideways, and although it was 15 above, it felt VERY cold. I’m the official gate-opener so while Will runs up and down the hill with the tractor, I wait for him to come so I can open gates. Brrrrr! And although we now have a great new well downhill from the barn, you still have to warm up the generator, start it, hook up a hundred feet of hose (sometimes a little frozen in spots) and stand around while water fills this tank, then that tank. Then the hose must be drained twice in hopes it won’t be frozen next time we water.
No, living in the North is not easy but we couldn’t think of anywhere else we’d want to live.
For Christmas, my friend Dara gave me a big North Georgia Candy Roaster squash she’d grown. She said it’s one of the best tasting squash she’s ever had so she wanted us to try it. It is beautiful and I hate to cut into it! But, of course, we will so we can try this squash. If we love it too, we’ll be growing it this year so we can offer seed next year in our Seed Treasures catalog.
Meanwhile, David has been trimming out some spots in his old bedroom after work. (Work right now means taking his snowmobile and sled to Tower, about 30 miles away, unloading the snowmobile, then driving over seven miles across the ice on Lake Vermilion, to where Voyager Log Homes is working on a log house.) By the time David gets off work, it’s dark and the trip back to the truck must be interesting, especially when it’s snowing so much.
We’ve been spending a little time working on a couple more puzzles, first a bear, then deer, and just lately, an old farm scene. When you walk past the table, you just have to stop and find a few more pieces! We all really enjoy it. Hey, it doesn’t take much to entertain us homesteaders.
I just have to tell you about the huge pile of 20 solar panels we just got from a friend, on a VERY good deal! All totalled, it will boost our charging to double what we have now! Wow, were we glad to get them. Now, come spring, it’s one of the first projects Will has planned. We’ll have to run our generator very little once they’re all hooked up. So very nice! — Jackie
Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
The two feet of snow is mostly gone and the ground froze, at least a bit. So Will is hurrying to haul our last hay home from the fields. He’s had a little tractor trouble — nothing serious, just a plugged fuel filter, so far. He’s almost done on one field and the round bale storage yard is about full. He’s got another thirty or so bales over at another field. If all goes well, he should be finished in a couple of days.
We did get a little new snow but it’s nothing much; only a two-inch buildup and today it’s 32 degrees above! We’re rejoicing about that.
This past weekend we went to grandson Mason’s ninth birthday party. The best part of it for him was when Grandpa Will played Pie Face and got clobbered with a big gob of whipped cream right in his mouth and mustache!
I never showed you how the new stain on the west end of the house turned out. I got it done just before the weather turned too cold. I think it looks great and come spring, I’ll give it a couple more coats as that’s the “tough” end of the house. All our weather comes from the west and it gets plenty of hot sun in the afternoons in the summer. Some folks think once you build a log house you are freed from any maintenance. Not so. You need to keep the stain redone every few years to protect the logs as well as caulk up any large cracks so moisture doesn’t go in and start rotting the logs. But even with that, we sure love our logs!
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
It was such a wet summer, we struggled to put up hay and work in the gardens. So that put us late getting some other stuff done — like firewood. We already had plenty in the woodshed, nice split and dry too. But we like to have it stuffed full — just in case. Last week Will found a broken off big ash tree down in the edge of the woods. Real big! He worked for a couple of days cutting smaller trees to get down to it. Then yesterday, he got it dragged out. Just the branches alone gave us half a cord, which we split and stacked before bringing out the main trunk.
I was seeding some Early Red Bell peppers yesterday afternoon. They are hugely productive, sweet, and big too. I cut up the first batch to dehydrate. The second batch I cut into larger pieces to make Cowgirl Candy, which we really love. Then Will asked for help with the downed tree. Glad to take a break from the peppers, I hopped on the four wheeler and Will and Hondo drove the pickup to the woods. Hondo approved of the big log, running up and down on its full length. Will got it cut up into blocks, then we started splitting the blocks into pieces small enough we could lift into the pickup. (I’ll admit, some I couldn’t handle and didn’t think Will should have either!)
We got ’em all home and this morning we split the whole works with our $100 tractor-mounted wood splitter. Now we just have to get them stacked and in the wood shed. Will took off with the truck to pick up some used tractor tires he’d bought on a Do-Bid online auction but he’s anxious to get back so he can work on the stonework along the lower wall of our addition. Of course he wants to get that done before cold weather hits. It’s coming along real nice and puts a lot of our “crop” of rocks to good use. (The addition has a cantilevered wall with joists extending out 2 feet over a block wall.) Will added treated plywood and lots of insulation board to back the new “foundation” of stone, mostly for looks as it doesn’t support anything to any great extent.
I’m still picking beans and am having such fun discovering some of the new varieties we’ve grown this year! — Jackie
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
Our log home has been standing for eleven years now and it really needed some help. The stain on the east and west sides had faded and the logs had turned gray underneath. There were also bad checks (cracks), some of which faced upward, letting the rain enter the log. Not good! Last fall, we tried sanding the logs; that left ugly “spotted” logs and it was nearly impossible to get in around the corners of the log corners.
Luckily for us, David has been working for Voyageur Log Homes for over a year now and has become an expert at caring for log homes. When he got back from a big job in North Dakota, he wanted to get right at cleaning, re-staining, and caulking the logs on our house. So we lined up a pressure washer and sandblaster. (Lucky for us, we have good friends who had both!) My son, Bill, also came up for our weekend job to help. God gave us a perfect day for the work, too; plenty of sun and a nice breeze.
We first pressure-washed the east wall which had no checks and just some faded stain. It’s log siding so it doesn’t tend to check as bad as full logs do. I just need to re-stain it with two coats of stain and a sealing coat.
It took about an hour to cover the windows on the west side of the house with plastic and cardboard and mask the drip edge below the logs with duct tape. Then David hooked up the sandblaster and the work got under way. I’ll admit David looked like a creature from outer space with his hood, long sleeves and welding gloves!
The sandblaster was smaller than the one David used at work and the job went a lot slower than he would have liked. But by dark, using the headlights of the four wheeler, he and Will finished the wall up to the front corner when the bags of sand ran out. Hopefully, today we can finish that corner. We still have the job of digging out any old, failed caulking from the largest checks so they can be re-done. Then I can start staining the wall again. It’s amazing how new the wall now looks! Thank you David, Bill, and Will! — Jackie
Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
Planting, planting, planting … between the rains
We’ve been getting very little sunshine between the rains. When it’s nice, we’ve been planting like crazy. So far we’ve got in tons of different corns in various isolation gardens around the 120 acres, lots of beans from all over the world from Maine to China! We also have 107 tomatoes, including 68 varieties, this year. I also got 11 hills of Atlantic Giant pumpkins planted yesterday. We planted all of this just before the rain hit this morning. It looks like it will continue for a couple of days.
Inside, we’ve started several pumpkins, squash and long-season beans to set out when the weather is warmed up for good. And on these rainy days, we keep busy inside. Will is painting polyurethane on the home-sawn oak planks that will be the mantel shelves behind our wood stove. So far they look great! What a wonderful addition they’ll make.
For those of you who are wondering how Sir, our wonder goat kid, is doing, he’s growing like a weed! He’s still very friendly and follows me all over the pasture when I go out to check the electric wires on the fence.
Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
Although it’s not sunny and warm, the temps are still hovering in the low 50s although it has been rainy and cloudy off and on. It puts a damper on spring fever. Especially when one of our doe goats delivered twins outside in the cold rain. She had not shown any signs of kidding prior to that, either. One kid was born dead and the other, a buck, was chilled and weak, unable to nurse or even stand up. I rushed him into the house and put him in a box next to the wood stove. Then I tore back outside and got the mother on the milking stand and quickly milked a quart of colostrum from her.
The buckling wouldn’t suck so I tube fed him about 2 oz. of warm milk. I repeated every two hours until he finally started sucking on the bottle. But last night he was very bad; I didn’t even know if he was alive but I still tube fed him, finding he was breathing but very, very lethargic. I didn’t expect him to last till morning.
He did. And this morning he not only took the bottle but actually sucked vigorously. Now he’s acting like he just might live, after all. We hope.
Will’s been peeling the long, black ash poles he cut in our woods for the front porch railings. There are three sections needing railings so he cut plenty so we’d be sure to have enough. Luckily, being green, they peel very easily. Now he’s finished and they are stacked with the other logs by the sawmill, drying. Hopefully, we can get the railings sanded, stained, and assembled soon.
I got my morning glories planted this morning after soaking the seeds all night in cups of warm water. That helps them get germinating faster as the seeds have a thick shell. I can’t wait to see them bloom. — Jackie
Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Just yesterday we were running around outside in our T-shirts. Will was finishing up work on his rebuilt corn planter and I was continuing the cleaning and picking up in the yard and house garden. So much for that!
This morning we woke up to a foot of snow with steady snow falling. They say it’ll make 1-2 inches per hour all day, continuing during the night. Oh well, we knew it was coming via our weather radio so we were ready for it physically, but mentally? Not so much… Just when all the snow was pretty much gone, too. Luckily, Will brought the red oak planks (which will be our mantel behind the wood stove) inside before all the moisture hit. They’re planed smooth and look great. I can’t wait to get poly on them and see them in place. Now if the snow just goes away…
It’s not supposed to last long with temps above freezing in the daytime. Our first “scout” geese arrived on Friday. Will came running in the house shouting, “The scouts are here!” and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. (Black helicopters and armed SWAT team?) He quickly explained and we both ran out to hear geese in our big beaver pond. That was music to our ears, for sure. Ah, spring! Or not … — Jackie
Thursday, December 10th, 2015
I had to run to town for feed and when I got back, Will had the whole seed rack assembled in the sunroom/greenhouse. But when I took hold of one end, I wondered if just the two of us could possibly turn it upright! It was heavy and both of us have bad backs. But Will is a work-smart kind of guy and suggested he lift it a bit from the center, while I stuffed paint cans first under the top corners, one at a time, then repeated it, moving the cans closer to center. That went okay and when it was time to set it upright. I stood on the bottom while he lifted from the top center. As he lifted, I shoved the wheeled bottom toward him and … up it came, easy as pie. Wow, was I ever glad! (I had visions of crashing or a trip to the hospital for Will…) So yesterday, I moved the entire contents of the small, old seed rack, plus seeds from here and there all over the house (it seemed) onto the rack, not only in alphabetical order but also by species groups such as pumpkins/squash, peas, beans, etc. It’s so handy for us to fill orders — now if I can get our seed catalog finished and in to the printers.
(I’ve also been working on a Backwoods Home project too! Can’t tell, but it’s coming along fine.) Will is working on our new fridge, trying to determine just what is wrong. Hopefully we can escape paying $1,000 for a new cooling unit.
Don’t forget to browse through my books when you’re thinking about buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones. (Hint, hint!) Book sales sure help out our homestead efforts every day.
I recently had good news. I’ve been accepted into membership of the Western Writers of America. This is an honor for me, to be sure! — Jackie