A scenic route, hard work, and a graceful glider

WARNING:  Go grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, because this is a longish post!

~*~  THE SCENIC ROUTE ~*~

Each week we try a different way to get the Mountain Farmlet.  This week on our way up we discovered a cute pond.

The owner of the pond set it up with duck decoys and a painted silhouette for the dog.  Most of the rest are garden art statuary.  Kitschy?  A bit overdone?  Nah, a wee bit Disneyesque perhaps.  😉

~*~ HARD WORK ~*~

To say that fixing up the old cabin is hard work goes without saying.  To say that it is hot work is an understatement.

On the previous Sunday whilst peeling the walls we discovered that there were rodent feces falling down from a crack in the ceiling.  And I suppose it is to be expected in a drafty over 100-year-old farm-house.  So we stopped our work, went to Home Depot and purchased disposable space suits.  The label said “One size fits most…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut barely.

Poor Bob was getting overheated and we both had to make frequent stops to hydrate and cool off.  He lost five pounds this past Sunday!

What we have discovered so far is a fire in the kitchen walls, termite damage, and graffiti.  Apparently, the house was empty for a while?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What we discovered in the ceiling was pounds of rat crap.  I’m sorry, but there is no more delicate way of saying it, and it was disgusting.  We were very glad for the “One size fits most” disposable space suits and our face masks with mold filtering capabilities!

And, I suppose it goes without saying that we were glad we had the foresight to put down disposable paint tarps before we pulled down that ceiling, and that we spent the extra money to purchase HEPA filters for the shopvac.

Bob was so grossed out that he put everything, including the HEPA filter into a black trash bag and tossed it.  GACK!

As we pull away the layers and remove the damaged wood I have been spraying EVERYTHING with pure vinegar.  It kills germs, kills mold (I looked this factoid  up) and remarkably, makes the house smell fresher.  So far, best practice says that the mold is growing on the surface, and to remove it you must use elbow grease and *hot soapy water to get rid of it.  It also says that if there is discoloration into the wood, Then it is wood rot and you should remove it.  Of course if the mold is in the wallboard, or in the fiberglass batting, then it goes without saying that it should be removed and properly disposed of.

Which leads me to the next factoid.  Did you know that if you stuff an old wooden house with fiberglass batting, that you are trapping moisture within the walls and you are inviting MOLD to live there?

Apparently, in our efforts to use less energy and to be “green” we are creating a perfect storm for mold growth and decay.  The more you stuff into the walls, the more air tight you make your home, the more you save on energy costs.  Right?

Unfortunately, the trapped moisture you create means your walls become a spore factory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExhibit A:  White mold on a wall brace where fiberglass batting rested on it.

Mold spores are everywhere outside.  They are kept in check because of sunshine and the breezes that surround us.  Once they are locked up tight into your walls they go into overdrive and you may get sick.

So it turns out, that a drafty old house is a healthy old house.

We have decided to remove the toxic, formaldehyde off-gassing, mold harboring, fiberglass batting.  The walls will be able to breathe again and the mold will have a less inviting place to grow.  We will not be “green” but as our winters are not so harsh here, we then find it an acceptable tradeoff for our health.  Currently, I keep the thermostat set to 64 degrees in winter and wear warmer clothes.  In summer it is 74 degrees with ceiling fans to circulate the air.

This Thursday the new insulated tin roof goes on and that in and of itself should be a big energy savings winter or summer.  😀

~*~ A GRACEFUL GLIDER ~*~

Would you ever guess that a Guinea Hen could be a graceful glider?

Last night the hooty-owl from the oak woods came for a second visit in exactly seven days.  We lost another Weechoo in the dark of the night.  Bob came in and told me about it early this morning.  Strangely, for as loud as they are, we never heard a thing.  Poor Weechoo.

So this morning while I sat on the front porch to wave Bob off to work I saw a rather largish bird take off from the top of the tree across the street.  At first in the dusky light I thought it was the killer owl, but no, it was one of the Weechoos returning home.  From that height it spread its wings,  stretched out its neck, and in a perfect glide went over the barn into our chicken yard.  That was a distance of over 200 feet!

Who would have guessed that such an ungainly and to be honest, rather ugly bird could be so graceful?

IMG_6673Image courtesy of Lori on her visit to the Farmlet this spring.  AKA: Little Sundog at Day by Day the Farmgirl Way.

Unfortunately for us… trash day was yesterday.  We were left with no other choice but to triple bag the carcass and put it into the freezer till next trash day, because it is still very much hot, humid, summer weather here.

Now I can hear some of you gagging and groaning! 

But think… 

You put dead things in your freezer all the time, and I’m betting that you don’t even triple bag them.

😉

~*~

(You’re still here?  Thanks for reading!)

~*~

NOTE:  Borax was highly recommended on many sites for mold remediation.  You know I will be adding that to the hot soapy water!

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0211-mold-causes-health-effects-and-clean-up
  2. http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/prevent-mold-growth-under-fiberglass-insulation/
  3. http://www.insulation.org/articles/article.cfm?id=io031002
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/MOLD/
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42 thoughts on “A scenic route, hard work, and a graceful glider

  1. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com says:

    How about natural insulation, eg sheep’swool or compacted newsprint? The key seems to be ventilation, so your draughts should come in handy! Have you tried a steam cleaner to remove mould? It works a treat on the joints between the tiles of our shower!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Lynda says:

      Viv, mold LOVES paper and moisture. Here in the deep south it is just too humid to keep it dry. That is where it started growing, on the paper backing of fiberglass insulation, in my picture above. As for the Wool, I think the mice would have a field day in it! If I could keep the mice out of it, I think it might make a good choice. 😉

  2. Littlesundog says:

    Oh, poor Weechoos! I adored them so much! So you have two left now? Oh, I do not think they are ugly! They’re CUTE! That’s why I was so intrigued with them… they’re so unusual!

    Good gosh… the mold. Who knew you could get disposable space suits at Home Depot? I could use them for plenty of projects around here! Glad to know this. Lynda, you always teach me something new! I’m sure learning a lot about old cabins, and home repair issues!

    • Lynda says:

      They are quite handy, Lori, but seriously hot. The label says they are ventilated, but when it is 90 something with high humidity, and the windows are open to keep the air vented out and fresh air in, well…

      Just stick me with a fork, cause I’M DONE!

      We were exhausted when we got home that night and terribly achy the next morning. At least I/we were cleaner for the drive home. OH, but next weekend we will be able to take a shower before we leave for home!!! We have WATER in the back bedroom again!

      I will be packing toiletries, towels and a shower curtain! 😀 Oh yes, and as a temporary measure I will be taking a small window fan to ventilate that bathroom until we can get a venting wall fan installed. 😉

      Baby steps…

  3. duck duck goose says:

    Here at the Goose Farm all deceased birds are taken to an area in the woods – a ways out, above the lake, for the scavengers to dispose of. I often wonder what they think as they come and find more “gifts” from the farmer. But they are gone in hours if not days. And it’s all good- everyone’s happy.

    As for what is in walls? YEESH! When I pulled the walls off of the homestead, it was insulated with mouse and wasp nests only!!! And yes, I am a firm believer in respirators and suits too!

    Just moved the washer out of the house and found it was rotted all the way thru the floor……. sigh…… sometimes, I just wish I didn’t move or tear anything down!~

    Connie.

    • Lynda says:

      More than likely I will be able to do that in the woods up on the mountain, but here I have no choice but the trash bin.

      HA! My plumber told me they call all those mud wasp nests “Alabama Insulation”.

      I feel your pain, Connie. I went to bed a couple of nights back and couldn’t get to sleep for thinking about what we were going to find lurking in those walls! 😛

    • Lynda says:

      Tom, your most recent kitchen renovation tells me that the next owners will have nothing to be concerned about. You have a beautiful old home and you and Mrs. Tootlepedal have kept it very well.

    • Lynda says:

      This, in so far as we can know, is to be our last move. However, we do move quite a lot here in the states. Is it the same where you live, or is everyone sensible like you and stays put?

  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Y’know, Guinea Fowl remind me of Buckwheat Honey… (Once you get past the head (or nose, in the case of the Buckwheat; ) it’s really quite delightful… The honey has a wonderful caramel flavour and Guinea Fowl have the most elegant plumage: )
    But, speaking of ungainly looking birds, have you ever seen wild turkeys in flight? VERY cool! Completely amazing to me that they can even get off the ground; never mind roost in the trees and, in just the right light, the most wonderful metallic-coloured feathers! (Again, so long as you don’t take them at face value, LOL!!)

    • Lynda says:

      It is, Patti. It is pathetic how tired we are when we get home too. Some days it is honestly overwhelming. However, even though it seems like nothing is getting done, and that it is taking a long time, we also realize that before we know it we will be ready to move! And that is encouraging us to continue on. 😀

    • Lynda says:

      Julie, your house is constructed of brick and I don’t think Anthony or any of the previous men in the family would let it get that bad! If it doesn’t smell bad (mildew/mold) when you come back after a day away from it, then It is most likely fine. 😀

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, we will! Thanks, TBN. We get so dirty when we are there that the suits help to keep it off of our clothing and skin. Then we peal them off and put them into the trash. And yes, we do drink a lot of water too. I’ve had heat stroke once and never want to be that sick again! I will be pushing Bob to drink A LOT more water too.

    • Lynda says:

      You are so sweet, Chantal! However, you may want to wait just a bit longer to avoid all that dust and dung! 😛

      I would love you to visit, and the coffee and biscuits would be nice too! 😀

    • Lynda says:

      LOL! Thanks Chica! If we are ever going to live here then it has to be done, and we don’t have the funds to pay someone else… Or believe me we would. 😉

  5. LB says:

    Oh wow, where do I begin? Well, I guess … Rat Crap! Yuck! You guys deserve something extra special for that!
    Your mold explanantion makes so much sense!
    The freezer was the best place for that carcass! I mean, I save every turkey / chicken carcass from every meal, holiday or otherwise, for soup making later. Not quite the same I know, but good choice!
    AND when I visited my son in Charleston, SC the palmeto bugs (aka roaches) got into the fresh pecan pie … and I put it in the freezer until the trash came).

  6. Bill says:

    Sorry to see that you’re losing guineas to owls. We could never persuade ours to roost in the barn. They prefered the trees where the owls eventually picked them all off. Grrr….

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks, Bill. They do prefer the trees, although once about a month ago I found them all in the chicken coop. Very strange, then the next night it was right back up in the trees! It is hard for me to tell one from another, but I am pretty sure that it is the females they got.

  7. shoreacres says:

    This sounds so much like rebuilding after Hurricane Ike I hardly can believe it. There are differences, of course – but we have the mold in common, and where you have dung we had mud. I might add that the mud was about the grossest stuff ever – oh, my goodness.

    The only thing I’m a little worried about is you using vinegar rather than Clorox. That might be fine for surface mold… I just don’t know. All I know is that after the flooding they told everyone in town not to go with the home remedies, but to use Clorox. I’m sure you’ve researched it much more than I have – I just was surprised.

    Now, for the important question – what’s a weechoo? I couldn’t even find it on the internet! Maybe my google is broken!

    • Lynda says:

      I can understand why they advised to use bleach. It was because of the flooding and the leaking sewerage in the flood waters! Cholera, typhoid, dysentery and other virulent diseases can be spread in flood waters. My information on the mold cleanup is sound. They are little fungal spoors and will die from the acid of the vinegar. It kills larger fungal bodies too! I had some strange jelly fish looking fungus growing on my wood steps out my back door here. I sprayed them with straight vinegar and within 24 hours they had completely disappeared. Although bleach may in fact kill fungi, it will not melt it away like the vinegar did. I also tried bleach on the mold that was growing on my window sills here (from water condensation in the kitchen in winter) and it just grew back! Vinegar got rid of it!

      This is my favorite of the articles I read. I think it is a very common sense outlook on mold prevention and remediation. http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0211-mold-causes-health-effects-and-clean-up

      Sorry! Weechoos are what I call my Guinea Hens. I call them that because of the funny loud call they make. Googling it should have at least pulled me up! 😉 Which brings up broken internet issues! We have just been without internet service for over 24 hours! Very annoying!

  8. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hi Lynda, Unfortunately, unless you’re doing the whole “high-efficiency/vapour barrier/air exchange” thing, all you get from “over insulating” is what you’ve found in your walls…
    Unless there’s an INTACT moisture SEAL between the outside air, the insulation and inside (heated/air conditioned) air; condensation will occur where hot, moist air meets the cold… It’s called Sick Building Syndrome and happened A LOT at the beginning of R2000 building standards):
    Paradoxically, a properly sealed, whole log building has a higher R Value than anything else; well, other than Abobe, StackWall, Straw Bale Construction… ; )

    • Lynda says:

      They are still building like this now. There was a feature on the news about the mold problems that are causing homes to rot and fall apart here. They are homes built within the last ten years! Sad.

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Yes, too sad! I seem to recall some(one of the Trades people you had working there?) had made a comment about “building codes optional” or something like that. This is an all-or-nothing building method and to me at least, in a lot of situations, you’re probably better off to stick with the old, locally suitable ways of building – like your Dog Trot and large verandahs, situating to make use of prevailing winds… anything where the home can breath and be shed of the destructive hot, moist air that enables mold growth and encourages insect infestation.

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            But that’s the beauty of a log building – you don’t need to have drafts… If you do a good chinking job to seal up the cracks (modern systems are AWESOME – I think I sent you some info on this a while back?) the LOGS will still be able to breath to normalise moisture levels and you will be comfortably warm in winter and cool(er; ) in summer.
            Of course, this is also dependant on the building being high and dry in the first place…
            Proper drainage at ground level: ground contouring to force water to flow AWAY from the house, foundation drains, sump pump if necessary…
            Proper roofing: sufficient pitch on roof lines, sealed flashings, eavestroughing and again drainage pipes to carry rainwater away from the building.
            I may be forgetting some things, but pretty sure I sent links about this too (and yes, LOL, you CAN call me a Compulsive Helper; ) but all this stuff is just SO IMPORTANT! Bee well, D.

          • Lynda says:

            I take your points, Deb, but only one room is constructed of logs, the rest is hollow walls of board and batten and tongue and groove, etc. 😉

          • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

            Hi there!

            Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner on this, busy, busy… (But I did at least START it right away; )

            Aw shoot, I’d forgotten about that! Oh well, all of the rest of it (except the chinking part, of course; ) still applies for the rest of the house anyway…

            So, what ARE you going to do with the rest of it then? Has it already been made “high and dry” like I described, or do you still need to do more? Think I’ve already told you some things about the Farm (my Mom’s place) right? Well, it was built under the same circumstances as when the Mountain Farmlet was built; what with the land-clearing for crops and such… Her walls were done similarly to yours there (I think… One layer of boards was attached horizontally to a frame, a second layer of boards went over the first, but going vertically; with a third layer (of ship-lapped clapboard siding) over that… Funny thing is, with the exception of where the original section was met by the first addition (summer kitchen), and then again where the woodshed was attached; it was a fairly draft-free, snugly-built house.

            Unfortunately, it is AMAZING (to me, at least) how much damage can be caused by a small amount of water leakage/seepage: the worst being dry rot of support beams and floor timbers. But you already know this story, from personal experience anyway, right?; )

            At least, once the water can’t get in to cause any more trouble and things have dried out, you won’t have these problems any more and that’s a very GOOD THING (to quote Martha Stuart; )

            Meantime, until the JOB is done (to paraphrase a Golden Oldie; ) “Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch…”

            Thinking of you two OFTEN, Hugs D “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined” ~ Thoreau

            – Sent from the iPhone of Deb Weyrich-Cody

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