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Archive for the ‘Building’ Category
Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
A whole lot of work inside the house has gotten done this winter. It’s just been too cold for us to do anything outside. Usually Will is out in the woods with Old Yeller, our bulldozer, cutting firewood for future years and then we’re cutting and splitting it up. This year, he just couldn’t do it. The snow is way too deep and it’s brutally cold both for us humans and our trusty equipment. We’ll get at that in a few weeks, while there’s still snow on the ground and it’s a lot warmer, even if it’s still frozen.
This last week, Will finished the rock work behind our living room wood stove. He scrubbed it down with cleaner, which removed the cement stains on the rocks. Then he painted on sealer which gives the rocks a wet look, setting off their colors. He had to do that before he laid the laminate flooring. It looks absolutely gorgeous!
Meanwhile, I was cleaning out cupboards and moving smaller furniture here and there, clearing the floors in the dining room, entryway, and living room so he could work. Then Will went around making sure there were no nail heads sticking up or other “bumps” on the floor. While I was in town, he began laying the laminate. (He sometimes gets to cussing when starting something picky that he hasn’t done before!) But by the time I got back, things were leveling off and he had the knack of it. Actually, it went pretty fast, taking one afternoon, into the evening, then finishing the next morning. I helped by hauling boxes of laminate out of the bedroom and opening them. Then I took empty boxes outside to burn, one or two at a time. (Pretty good gofer, I am!) I’ve learned that with Will, I need to stay out of the way. He doesn’t like much help! Now there’s just the trim to install and the furniture to move back.
As there is a lot of stuff all over the kitchen counter, it’s a good time to get rid of things we just don’t use. Clutter is SO easy to accumulate!
Oh, just a note: there was no odor at all from the installation of the laminate as one reader warned. I just thought I’d mention this so others who are considering installing it wouldn’t avoid using it because of this issue.
Our weather’s in a warming trend and it’s supposed to hit mid-thirties by a week from now. I can’t tell you how happy that makes us! — Jackie
Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Yep, at the risk of sounding same old same old, we got another 14 inches of snow with 40 mph wind. Now the temp’s going down way below zero this whole week! This is getting really tiresome! And to top it off, our water line from the well froze. So we’re out of running water for about 6 weeks. At first it seemed horrible. But, hey, we’ve lived where we never had running water at all. So we sucked it up and started melting snow for flushing the toilet and washing hands. And on trips to town, I come back past a flowing spring and fill water jugs for drinking and cooking water. Heck, it could be worse. We’re warm, have plenty of food, and the critters have plenty of feed. We’ll get by just fine but still hope for an early spring.
Meanwhile, it gives Will and me more time to work inside. We’ve been cleaning and hauling furniture out of the living room, dining room, and entryway in preparation for laying the laminate flooring.
We do chores, shovel, and snow blow to clear paths and clear around equipment, then we come inside to work, taking a “break.” Hey, it’s working. — Jackie
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
Yeah, we’re darned sick of below zero temps, night and day with windchill temperatures of -5 to -60 degrees. (Did you know that your skin can freeze within 5 minutes when it’s that cold?) Will found that out the hard way … almost. We were tying our new countertop on top of the Subaru when it was -30 with a stiff wind. He couldn’t tie the ropes with gloves on and took them off. By the time we got the two ropes tied, his hands were REALLY cold. Painfully cold. And we were really glad that they were still pink instead of frostbite white! Close one.
Of course we’ve been getting chores done very quickly, making sure all animals have plenty of bedding and feed to make more calories to fight off the intense cold.
So once chores are done, we have a lot of inside time! I’ve been packaging seed orders; we’ve been planning on crops we plan on growing this year, both for trial, our use and to save seeds from; and working on projects in the house. I bought Will a chainsaw sharpener last year for Christmas and one of his projects was to build a stand for it. He’d picked up an old stand from a drill press at the dump a couple of years back and he added a slightly smaller pipe to fit down inside it and cut a circular plate of steel to fit on top of the pipe, welding it in place. Then he drilled two holes in the plate to match the holes in the chainsaw sharpener base. He added two bolts and he had a portable, handy chainsaw sharpener. So one cold morning, he brought in all ten of his chainsaw chains and sharpened them. Now he’s ready to hit the woods or do more log work on the front porch, barn, or house!
Will also finished the trim around the laundry room door and windows in the addition. A year ago we’d picked up a truckload of knotty pine paneling from the dump that someone tore out of their house. We didn’t know what we’d use it for but just that it could come in handy. It did. Will cut all the trim from that throwaway lumber and it looks great.
This winter, we’ve been accumulating boxes of laminate flooring for the entryway, living room, and dining room. We found a wood grain we liked, Brazilian Koa, at Menards and wanted to get enough in case they discontinued it. (Happens a lot!) Now we have enough to do the job so I’ve noticed Will figuring out the initial work needed. Could happen fairly soon, but first we’ve got to clean up the concrete and rock work behind the wood stove so we don’t make a mess on our new floor. Yes, we would have rather done the floors in real wood but just couldn’t afford it. The laminate will look pretty and has a 30-year warranty. — Jackie
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
But before we get into that, please let me assure you folks who ordered seed in January and haven’t received them yet that they are being processed. We had a huge number of orders every day and we ran out of several varieties, chiefly the Hopi Pale Grey squash seed. We do have lots of squash, and other seeds that just needed to be cleaned and processed. I waited to make sure they were totally dry before shipping as I sure didn’t want any to mold! I’m finishing up with the orders today and tomorrow so your seeds ARE coming soon. I’m sorry to have worried you. As this is our first year, we didn’t have any idea of what to expect. We’ll do better next year.
On a good note, I do have more Bill Bean tomato seeds ready to sell so if you wanted some, just go ahead and order (click on the green box at the top of the blog). Thank you for your patience!
The very last thing Will needed to do on our new kitchen cabinets was to cut and poly some baseboards. The boughten ones were very expensive and not so pretty. We have a pile of nice, dry ash in the wood shed and he chose some with beautiful grain and cut them to fit. After 5 coats of poly, he installed them yesterday. What a feeling of accomplishment! Done!
Now we just have to save money for the upper cabinets, one or two at a time. But they’re not nearly as expensive and there’s no countertop either. Whew! The bathroom and kitchen look wonderful. We’re sure tickled. — Jackie
Friday, January 24th, 2014
Will has our kitchen just about finished (but for the upper cabinets that we can’t afford yet) and the bathroom vanity is nearly hooked up. Wow! All that cold is worth something, I guess. I can’t remember such a long period of intense cold here in northern Minnesota, even when we lived down by Sturgeon Lake for more than 20 years. But other than the weather being nasty, we homesteaders and all our critters are doing fine.
Meanwhile, we’ve been busily packaging seeds for folks. Our mailbox is stuffed every day with orders. We may be a bit slow (just Will and I are counting and packing seeds) but so far the seeds are holding out pretty well. I can see that we’ll be saving many more seeds this fall!
I’ll be starting peppers in the greenhouse in only three weeks. Doesn’t that make spring seem so much closer? I can hardly wait.
Then there is the new, larger, better worked up pumpkin patch in the new forty. I’m planting just about every kind of pumpkin and squash I can think of. Not to save seeds but just to see how they do. Most will end up as poultry and animal feed but we’ll harvest some to eat, too. The deer didn’t bother our small, late-planted crop last year so we have hopes they’ll go off to the new seeding of clover on the 5 acre patch that Will plowed and worked up last fall. Bait? Mmmm. Whatever works. — Jackie
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Since it was cold and windy yesterday, Will spent the day working on our new countertop, sink, and kitchen cabinets. By evening, the faucets were on and the water running. No leaks! Of course our “building inspector,” Mittens, was involved with every step. She walked around the cabinets, popping in and out from under the sink, peering down off of the countertop, and sitting by Will as he assembled the various pieces on the kitchen floor.
I spent the day packaging seeds to mail out on Tuesday. I took a batch in to the post office in Cook on Saturday but then found out that they were no longer open on Saturdays! Now I have two big bags full of orders to go out.
Because Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds were in nearly everyone’s order, I cut open two more squash today to harvest more seeds. It takes about a week for them to dry completely as they are fat seeds. So I’ve got two plates full sitting in the greenhouse drying nicely. The chickens got the squash “guts” and I’m baking the squash. Some will be for dinner and some to make a couple of “pumpkin” pies. I’ve found that I just toss the ingredients in my blender and whiz it awhile. The squash blends down velvety smooth and you’ve never had a better pie!
We’re running low on the Bill Bean tomato seeds so have pulled them from the seed listing to avoid disappointing people. However, I DO have quite a few Cherokee Purple tomato seeds if anyone is interested. These are a very large red with dark mahogany overlay. The tomatoes are the most flavorful of all we raise and sauce made from them is a beautiful rich dark red.
We’re looking forward to spring so much, especially with the intense cold weather we’ve had this winter. We’re looking at another week of highs that are below zero. Depressing! But I bought some on-sale paper white narcissus and amaryllis at WalMart after Christmas for $2.50 a pot and they are already starting to bloom. Today I have Ziva paper whites in bloom and boy do they smell like spring! A few flowers make a huge difference in one’s outlook. — Jackie
Sunday, January 19th, 2014
Slowly, over the last year, we’ve been buying one base kitchen cabinet at a time as we could afford it. Then a piece of counter top. And another. Finally, we got them all! And today, while I was working on the computer upstairs, Will tore out the old metal sink base and $3 dishwasher and is getting ready to install the cabinets on the last wall. Wow, it took a long time to buy everything for that short run of cabinets because there were two cabinets, a sink, faucet, and countertop to buy before anything could be put together. And with our no-loan attitude, it took months to get it all. Now our patience is rewarded. Yipeee, I can hardly wait until it’s finished!
After Will got over the worst of his stomach flu, he finished up the body of the bathroom vanity. We have the faucets. (I’ve had them for seven years, just waiting for that vanity.) So there’s another installation project on the to-do-soon list.
Meanwhile, I packed the first of our seed orders for our little homestead seed business and am working on an article for the magazine.
And I FINALLY got the snow off the goat barn path with the snow blower. It was packed hard from walking on and boy was it tough to remove! I had to chop the snowplow berm up with the shovel before it could be blown away. But, hey, it’s gone now and it’s so much easier to haul feed and water to the goats rather than climb over that three foot frozen hump of snow four times a day. It doesn’t take much to make a homesteader happy, does it? A warm fire, good health, plenty of food for us and the critters, shelter, and easier chores. And spring right down the road!
The wolves are breeding and that usually doesn’t happen until a month from now. Hopefully they know that we’ll be having an early spring? (How do I know? They “mark” the snow banks all down our driveway when they’re romantic. No wolf pee all winter, then every few feet there’s a signpost, well tracked with wolf tracks and scratches. We can wish, can’t we? — Jackie
Monday, January 13th, 2014
I don’t think we’ve ever been so happy to feel warmer winter weather in our lives. After nearly a month of below normal, brutal, unrelenting cold, we’ve hit a spell of warmer weather. Yesterday it was 32 degrees ABOVE zero! Okay, so we had freezing rain. David and I drove down in it to my granddaughter, Ava’s second birthday party … all 114 miles. It was a little tense at times but really not that bad. Our little old Subaru Outback was wonderful.
And, oh, how much fun we had playing with Ava! Will couldn’t come. No, he wasn’t bad. He was down with the same stomach flu we have all had. No fun at all! When we left he was on the couch with a plastic ice cream bucket tucked in nearby, just in case. And when we got home yesterday evening, he was still there, although he had gotten up a few times to put wood on the fire and tend the dogs. (The dogs couldn’t understand that he was sick and kept pestering him unmercifully, as did Mittens.) He was real glad when we got home.
Before coming down sick, he finished the last coat of poly on the new bathroom vanity and was working on the “new” Craftsman radial arm saw he’d picked up cheap on a Do-Bid online auction for $34. After going online to research the saw, he found out that there had been a recall on it so he called the help line. As a result, Craftsman sent him a complete kit to rebuild the guard assembly and also a new table top. Now it looks and will perform like new! Pretty good deal, huh?
Meanwhile, I’ve been playing catch-up doing all the little “chores” to make the animal shelters even more weather-tight for the next cold spell. (We’re not dumb enough to believe the rest of the winter will be like it is right now!) And I’ve been trying to catch up on my cleaning; when I had the stomach flu last week, everything pretty much stopped, except for Hondo, our little “monster baby” who loves to drag stuff around and chew it if it’s chewable.
I can hardly wait to see what the bathroom vanity and kitchen cupboards look like when assembled. Will and I picked up the last two base cabinets a week ago and also the last piece of counter top, bought with some of our beef money. I already have the sink and only need the faucet and we can put it all together. Wow! — Jackie