Category Archives: Home improvements

Hey Diddle Diddle

Yesterday we set to work and had in mind to get the lawn mowed and wall work done.  So of course before we even left for the mountain I bent over to turn on the water spigot to water the geese and

WHAM!

I threw out my lower back. 

I didn’t let it stop me going, but it sure limited my work.

Every week it is something new up there, but the surprises that help us to continue, and not become too discouraged, are awesome!   So while Bob continued on demo and reconstruction, I busied myself with cleaning out the old smoke house.  In recent history it had been used as a shed and was mostly empty after the Octogenarian’s estate sale, but there remained tons of old junk,

plastic bags, moth balls, old chemicals, baling wire, string, cracked and brittle extension cords, old antennas from two mystery cars, pine cones, mouse eaten black walnut shells, screws, nails, old silk flowers, rusty saw blades, spider webs, and of course the ubiquitous mud dauber nests.

A nice consolation prize was finding a primitive, hand crafted bench, and some ancient iron shelf supports that will look great when cleaned and repainted for the kitchen.

I apologize for not having pictures for you, but I couldn’t carry the camera and lean on the broom for support at the same time.  Rest assured you will see these items when they have been spruced up and placed where I need them!

However, at the end of the day I did find you these by using my tripod to support the camera, and on the trail I used my trekking poles to support myself!  HINT – if you find yourself on poles for support, well, in a pinch you can use one of the poles as a monopod and balance your camera on it.  It isn’t as sturdy as using the tripod, but it works well enough.  :D

UPDATE!  The fencing in question is called “Ring Lock” fencing and is apparently quite dangerous to wild animals and livestock.  Mostly in Australia, and mostly to Kangaroos!  Animals attempting to jump over it get their feet stuck in the wires.  Their feet go through and as momentum takes them over their feet cause the lower wire to the whip over the top wire and this captures their feet.  Very sad!  Glad I will be removing any of it that still remains.  I like the look of the wire fence, but imagine it put to better use as some Objet d’art.    Thank you Pam and Deb for getting me on the right track to solving this mystery fencing!  ;)

NOTES:

Chimaphila maculata – aka:  Spotted Wintergreen, Pipsissewa, Striped Wintergreen, Striped Prince’s Pine, Striped Prince’s Plume, Dragon’s Tongue.  Dragon’s Tongue is my favorite of its names and it produces the prettiest petite flowers too!  Want to see them? Then look HERE!

Smoke House -  When the Octogenarian’s husband was growing up on the Mountain, they raised pigs.  To keep pig healthy for eating you had to butcher it in winter and smoke the meat to last you through the year.  The smoke house works on beef, venison, or fish too!  Want to know more?  Look HERE!

Construction notes on the Mountain Farmlet – I promised you a bit of history on cabin building, but now feel it will be more interesting if you wait for me to take more pictures of the cabin’s structure.

I know this is a big tease, and I am sorry, but I think you will be as excited as we are when you can see the photos along with a good explanation of what you are looking at.  Don’t you agree?

Two steps forward – one back

Today’s post will be a rambler, so bear with me…

But first, how about a little music from my youth to set the mood?


~ Donovan‘s First There is a Mountain ~  

With deepest apologies to Donovan…

Look  upon my Farmlet there’s been a thief, that’s what it was.
Look  upon my Farmlet there’s been a thief, that’s what it was.
First there was a trailer, then there was no trailer, then there was.
First there was a trailer, then there was no trailer, then there was.
The caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within.
Caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within.
Ah, my-my.

~*~*~*~

It would seem that sometime between Wednesday afternoon’s roof inspection, and yesterday’s work session, that someone took it upon themselves to *liberate us of our little trailer.  It is only big enough to carry the lawnmower.  Hence, without it we would have to leave the lawnmower.

Now that there had been a theft we no longer felt confident to leave it up there!

The locals say that theft is rare up on the mountain, but like anywhere else it can happen.  So, after making a police report, there was nothing for it but to go off to Tractor supply and purchase a new one.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that our model was on sale and this saved us $100.00.  Still, the money spent was money we don’t have for other needed things this month.

Bygones…

Our morning was now shot, but we set to work in the hours we had remaining.  Bob began the puzzle of building bones for the crooked wall in the bathroom, and I went out and finished the mowing around the house.  Everyone that comes to the Mountain Farmlet to work admonishes us to “Keep that grass cut short around your house and outbuildings so the snakes will stay away!”  Ah!  Now I understand the old adage about “A snake in the grass”  but I guess mowing doesn’t work on the two-legged kind.

When I was done I checked to see if Bob needed my help.  He said “No.”  So I went to the woods with the dogs in tow.  Because the land is a very long piece of property I estimate the trail’s loop to be one half to three-quarters of a mile when you walk it.

The trail is little traveled for the moment and always full of spiders.  On previous treks I had tried using a stick to rid the way of spiders, but their webs are hard to see and very strong!   It is very creepy to try to pull them off of your face and out of your hair, so I devised a tool to use.  I took an old, rather large umbrella and removed the fabric from it.  Now when I walk I hold its spines out in front and they catch the invisible webs, spiders and all!   This is a strange but true fact:  When I am done I hang it near the trail and when I come back the spiders *and all the webs are gone!   Weird, but nice.  I love a self-cleaning tool.  ;)

Returning with the dogs, I then put them on the back porch and grabbed my camera.  Before I left for the second walk I told Bob to ring the old farm bell to let me know when he was done and ready to go.

I have been here three times and never saw this bell until I took the previous picture!

Love that old farm bell!

Found along the way ~

NOTES:

  1. Apparently, the high protein substance of spider webs is a high energy product to produce.  Therefore, many spiders eat the silk to conserve energy for production of the next day’s web.
  2. *Hickory Tussock moths carry a poison substance in the barbed hairs on their backs.  It is said that it can cause a serious irritation in some individuals.  I did not want to test this, and therefore left the little beastie on the side of the trash bin. ;)
  3. The little trailer was heavily cabled to the car port structure… so they had to come back with bolt cutters!  :|
  4. And yes, even at the furthest point on the trail I could hear that bell.  Simply old-fashioned and wonderful!

A Job Well Done: a new roof for the old homestead

To say that an old place begun back in 1840 needs a little work is an understatement.  To do the work and not protect your investment of time and money would be foolish!

And so it is, that we called in the professionals when it came to repairing replacing the leaking roof.  Orchestrating the work that needs to be done here is like choreographing a circus balancing act.  As I told you previously, we knew certain jobs needed to be accomplished.

Jobs in order of known importance were:

  1. Fix the foundation  ~ Done
  2. Install a new roof ~ Done
  3. Install new plumbing ~  Partial only to the master bath.
  4. Install new wiring and bring it up to code ~ Waiting, as we need new studs and open walls to complete

The above work is being done by us as it now happens.  The rest of the work that needs to be done, the reconstruction, was found by discovery as we went along.  We will have to do the construction parts ourselves as well.  We are learning how to do so much!

We fixed the foundation knowing that it would shift the bones of the entire house and thereby cause leaks in the roof.  We scheduled the roofer to begin work immediately after the foundation repairs, and then it rained.  It rained hard off and on for many weeks!  We had 8 inches above normal rainfall this summer!  You simply cannot replace a leaking roof in the rain.  Needless to say, we were less than happy to see wet walls in the newest part of the house, that being the master bedroom.

Bygones…

Yesterday, we went out to do the final inspection on the new roof and we were very pleased!  We hired WPI out of Florence, AL.  Their attention to detail and hard work are a rarity in this day and age.

The job was not a simple one as you will see…

In the last photograph you can see the master bedroom peeking out on the left.  When we had the house inspected before buying it was noted that the roof had been lifted and folded back on that side.  Some screws were placed and some stepping-stones added to try to keep this side on, but the overhang was too long.  It had acted like a fin allowing the wind to get under the raw metal edge, and then lifted the panels up in a storm.  It had to be permanently fixed.

The work crew shortened the overhang by several inches, added a fascia, and properly battened it all down.  We think it looks really good!

Thanks WPI! 

WPI Work vehicles

Please click the image to be taken to their site.

~*~*~*~

PHOTO CREDIT:  A special thanks goes to Tommy (TS) at WPI for supplying the bulk of the construction photographs to me.  I couldn’t be there every day due the distance and these photos for my journal are awesome!

DISCLAIMER:  If my post today sounds like an add to you, well please know that we were not paid nor did we receive any compensation.   That said, as consumers we do appreciate when we come across a business that takes pride in their work, and knows how to treat their customers right.  Word of mouth is still the best way to get new business, and we believe they deserve the accolades!

The work continues and Bob gets nailed

We spent the day up on the mountain again yesterday.  I was riding bareback on the suburban grass eater all day, while Bob slaved away inside removing the infamous floating wall.

At one point I saw him coming across the bridge in his demo regalia (space suit, face mask, and goggles) and he was carrying a gas can.

“You’ve been out here for a long time, I figured it was time for a fill-up.”  he said.

He was right, there was only about a quarter-inch of fuel left in the tank.

We hired a man with a tractor to come out and bush hog the pastures.  When the Octogenarian was here she had the young man from down the road keeping the place looking like a park!  However, when she left and we asked him to continue the service, well, since we weren’t around every day he seemed to lose interest.  But hey, it was summer, he’s only 17, and he had friends to hang with and football practice.  I actually do ‘get it’ , but we decided we couldn’t support his summer activities and had to let him go.  ;)

That left the 2 – 3 acres around the house, cabin, and pond to mow.  Going non stop, it took me from about 9:00AM til 1:00PM.  I was almost done and I looked up again to see Bob out by the drive and waving at me.  He wasn’t looking so cheerful this time.  Disengaging the blades I zoomed up to the drive.  I arrived to find that while he was working he had been stabbed in the forearm with a very ugly  and rusty nail.

It had been well over 10 years since his last tetanus shot.

He had been prying off the old oak planks on that floating wall, when one of them swung back.   The weight and force of the plank falling then drove a nail right into the muscle causing the puncture and resultant swelling.  We talked about whether or not to go to the ER for a tetanus shot because we knew the ER would be expensive.  Being nervous about infection we went anyway.

One shot, a prescription for antibiotics for prevention of infection (2,000 mg per day!) and $200.00 later, we were on our way back to finish and clean up.  Oh well, it’s only money, and money well spent judging by the high dose of antibiotics prescribed.

So, as it stands:

In my next post I will explain a bit about cabin building in the 1800s!  It will be interesting!  I promise!  :D