Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kitchen Floor and Judy's Deck

Our existing kitchen floor when we moved in was covered with 2 and in places 3 layers of carpet, two layers of sheet vinyl, all over a badly damaged tile, wood, and concrete floor.....no I am not kidding. In fact, we had places where there was actually holes in the floor covered by multiple layers of carpet.

So we ripped it all out, we layed 3/4" plywood underlayment, levelled the whole thing as best we could and we are in the process of laying 12" square vinyl composit tile...just like you see in old fashioned houses, government buildings, and schools. The stuff just lasts and is very durable.
It is a huge job and one I have been dreading, the old tiles probably contain asbestos so we decided to encapsulate them and cover them with underlayment rather than deal with taking it all out.

All of this old tile was coverd by layers of carpet and sheet vinyl and in the middle of the kitchen floor where the bay window addition starts the floor was concrete so we had to use Tapcons to secure the underlayment...just more work.

Of course we had to remove everything from the kitchen and dining area and we have tools all over. Luckily we are used to living in a construction zone so it doesnt really bother us....its progress.

The entire house doesnt have a right angle or a level or straight surface and the kitchen floor was no different. Its way better than it was but it will never be new house perfect..but then, thats not what we are interested in.

We used a lot more levelling compound than shows in this picture just to take out some of the low spots or weird transitions. It came out good enough for us.

Getting ready to start laying tile.

Getting your lines correct and making sure your tile covers any joint or transition by at least 4 inches is critical, we are just getting started here. We layed out the grid in pencil and when the glue sets up for you to start laying tile you can see the lines through the glue. Works well.

I find laying the glue the most tedious part.

First tile laying day complete and it looks a lot better. Still some dips and bumps but we are happy with it.

It looks so clean.

And since we were bored we decided to lay a concrete patio at Judy's place since she didnt have a back deck. We went concrete due to cost and the fact that we like the concrete patio we installed for our back patio so much.

The forms are in, 10"x16" of patio goodness.

The fill was pulled from our dry pond since we havent layed the clay in it yet and wanted it a bit deeper anyway.

Ready for the concrete pour on Thursday.

Judy likes it and the next project will be a covered front porch for her...but first we finish our kitchen floor.

Happenings around the Homestead as of 21 Sep

As usual we have remained busy, we have two major projects (kitchen floor and Judys back deck) underway which will be in a separate post but we got our fall garden plowed up and planted, we went to a Dexter cattle auction, we went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Mansfield, I have had to fight three major structural fires as a volunteer fire fighter, the neighbors horse got through a gate and into our pasture while our main gate was open (which meant they had access to the highway but Rose the farm dog saved the day), we planted a garden at Judy's place, we found three antique farming implements in out pasture that we hauled out and lastly, a neighboring farmer had to call for help when her husband was out of town to tend to an injured cow and repair a fence that was damaged when a storm blew over a couple trees. Other than that, the last week or so has been quiet!

Our okra kind of got away from us this year; we will do better next year.

The fall garden all plowed up. We already have things coming up including broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, raddishes, turnips, beets, a variety of herbs and probably a bunch of other stuff I am forgetting. Our pepper plants are still producing huge quantities, we have tomatoes still being harvested, bell peppers, more green beans than we ever want to see again, and the black walnut and persimmon trees are loaded.

Everyone works hard on this homestead.

The neighbors horses got into our pasture and came over for a visit.

Rose kept them from coming through our front gate which was open and saved the day.

Holly and Judy have been landscaping over at Judy's trailer....I guess they didnt have enough to do.

It came out nice though so no complaints.

A neighbors cow cut her leg and she was all alone so we went and helped out. We made a squeeze shoot out of an old gate and once I got her "squeezed" against the other gate she got her penecillan and medicated balm.

I enjoyed working with cattle again and it just makes me want to hurry and get our own stock.

We found a common snapping turtle in the yard the other day and Rose was going after it so we had to relocate it, they can do some damage with that beak and this guy was ticked off.

He was actually pretty good sized.

They are surprizingly fast and he tried to bite me but I still have all my digits. I ended up putting him in the bucket of the tractor and taking him to the back 40.

Judy has several roses and they are all doing great in this weather.

We hauled this old cultivator out of the pasture to add to our collection.

And this cultivator was a little newer and I may just put it back into use with our tractor.

This is an old road grader. It gets pulled by a tractor or truck and the operator sits between the two wheels and can raise or lower the blade and change the blade angle with the two wheels.

The two Terraplane hubcaps were worth the effort alone.

Adams Road Patrol Number 3...I need to do some research on it.

I met a guy at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Mansfield who tries to get people together for old equipment displays and he was very interested in the Allis Chalmers WC and the old Kholer generator so next year we will be in the show. He restored this tractor and is looking for a Farmall Cub for us....we want another project.

He found this old Lincoln welder and restored it to useful functionality...it has a Continental flat head 4 and hand cranks to start...I am so jealous.

And finally, Holly wanted to post this salamander..they are everywhere and for some reason all the women love them. So, we have had a busy couple of weeks and its been fun. Judy entered her quits in the quilt show and is now involved in the community on an advisory board and as part of a bowling team in Marshfield, we went to a great party at a farm down the road that had a live band, good people, gunfire, and a big bon fire, and we continue to enjoy retirement.

Favorite Daughter Goes Hunting

Number 1 daughter Jenny and her partner Steve homestead in Willow, Alaska and they hunt..a lot. She recently sent us the photos below and we now know what we will get for Christmas (moose sausage!)

Jenn has always been a good shot with a natural ability to keep a good sight picture. She used to put us all to shame at the range.

Between the two of them they keep the larder full and eat almost all wild game.

They also fish a lot and the fishing is good where they are living. These are Northern Pike.
And here she is with the small bull moose she shot last week. Steve got one a couple days later so they are pretty well set for winter. You can sit and complain about things and watch other people do things for themselves or you can do for yourself; I am glad our kids live life to the fullest just as we are doing and we are very proud of her.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cutting Wood and Banana Trees

So thats a heck of a title but we have been busy lately. We are at a lull in the garden as we prep for the fall garden and most of what we have going now is just herbs, sorghum, and a bunch of seedling starts in the greenhouse. But winter is coming so I finally had to get off my duff and go cut wood. I like cutting wood, I like the whole go out into the woods thing, I like the sound and feel of a chainsaw, I like the fact that after a hard days work you actually have something to show for your efforts.

My friend Bill lives a few farms away and has an outside boiler like we do so we were looking to find some places to cut wood, turns out a farm about 2 miles away was selling off high grade oak and hickory and the land owner said we could go in an cut whatever we wanted of the tops and slash and logs they decided not to take. It is a plentiful bounty and we could harvest that 160 acres all winter. Bill drove his tractor down so we could skid the logs and load the bucket and I took old blue and the trailer. We have harvested about 5 cords so far between us with about double that to go.

First the tools:

22 Ton Husky hydraulic log spilitter. It works great on the oak and hickory and sure beats a maul.

STIHL MS310 with a 20 inch bar. The absolute minimum needed to cut the prevalent red and white oak around here.

And of course the truck and trailer. I actually have been overloading the trailer weight wise so the next few loads I didnt load it as heavy.

We harvested some big logs on this first run and they were heavy. We have finally had a couple days of rain so it was muddy and 4 wheel drive was needed to get into our cutting area. Even bills tractor got stuck and we spent an interesting half hour or so disconnecting the trailer and yanking him out with a chain attached to the truck.

I tried using the splitter on the horizontal but soon discovered that vertical is the way to go with these heavy logs. I am dripping sweat in the photo as the temp was about 89 with high humidity due to the rain.

The splitter had no trouble splitting the largest, knottiest logs we had...money well spent.

First days cutting and still some to split.

Holly and Rose, two beauties.

Second days cutting, we have about three cords now and will be going for 8 total for the winter.

Lots of work for two days but satisfying.

Banana trees? Yes, we planted three and they are doing very well. They are hardy to 30 below zero but like lots of sun and water during the growing season. They will grow to about 17 feet and will spread in clumps like irises. Once frost hits we cut them back and then cover them with hay and in the spring the pups will pop through the hay and they will grow taller each year (hopefully). Yes you get finger sized bananas that are edible and no they didnt cost much ($19.00 each).

We think they lend a tropical air to the place on each side of the hog panel grape arbor.

Still need to get the pump going in the well house for irrigation...so many projects.

And speaking of projects, we continue chiseling out most of the old mortar and re-tuck pointing with portland cement. In this picture the lower half is completed and already sealed with the tan paint. Our house is an old slip form stone house and if you dont maintain the mortar you get freeze and thaw cycles that will actually pop the rock off the concrete backing..it also allows insects in so its an important task that just wasnt done on this house for a couple of decades.

We have actually almost completed this whole side of the house but had to take a break. You need to get the mortar smoothed and into each crack and crevis (you dont want rough edges to collect water) and the only way to really do that is to use your hands. My fingers are so burned I dont have finger prints on several fingers so we took a break to cut wood. Note the size of the elephant ears in the photo.

Well thats it...not much going on here just more wood cutting and mortaring. Next big project...covered front porch and back deck for Judy's trailer and new floors for the farmhouse kitchen and dining area. Retirement is...busy.