Archive | April 2014

The Living Room Now

After the unexpected interruption, we now resume your regularly scheduled programming. Posting may still be a little light over the next few weeks, as we still have our young visitor and life has effectively been turned upside down.

I love our house more than I can say. I wouldn’t trade it for a brand new house with all the most modern upgrades. It does need a little work, however, and I’m going to do a series of posts describing the current state of the house and what needs to be done. I’ll also do after posts for each project.

The living room is in pretty good shape. The walls and trim need a coat of paint. We also need to add baseboards on the bottom trim. We plan to use 1/4 inch round pieces to give the trim that “chunky” look.

Trim

We also need to replace one more of the room’s three windows and add insulation to the walls. The hearth and fireplace need to be painted and fixed, and Mr. Heater here has to go. He deserves a post all his own and will get it soon.

Hearth

None of these will be overly large projects. The room’s big project will be the ceiling. Check out this flashback to 1985.

Ceiling

Removing a popcorn ceiling isn’t difficult. It’s just a lot of tedious work. Tedious? I meant fun. Yes, it’s a lot of fun. Maybe if I say it enough times I’ll actually start believing it.

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And sometimes you just order pizza…

I apologize for the lack of posts. This has been just about the craziest week of my life. Here’s a rundown of some of the happenings here on the farm:

T’s been sick.

The ear infection just hasn’t wanted to clear up. We finally got the pediatrician to refer her to an ENT for tubes. Sometimes a day goes well and you get everything done. Other days you sit and hold your fussy, sick baby for most of the day. And sometimes, when she feels better a few days later and goes back to preschool, you’re so tired you go back to bed for a couple of hours after dropping her off. I’ve felt old lately, but I have to remind myself that I’m not -I just have a toddler!

The rabbits found the cover crop.

I knew they would; I just hoped they wouldn’t do to much damage before I finished installing the fence around the back. No such luck; they devastated the cover crop to the point that I might as well not have bothered planting it. Lesson learned.

I transplanted 40 herb plants.

More will go in soon. Because of the rabbit damage, I sprayed each and every plant with some OMRI certified rabbit repellent spray. I’ll let you know how it works.

Deal of the Week.

When I went to Home Depot for the spray (Lowe’s doesn’t carry the OMRI certified brand in store), I found a cart of “damaged” lumber marked down by 70%. Most of the damage was minimal or nonexistent and I brought home 5 12 foot long 2x4s for $2 each. The employees even cut them down to 8 feet for me, free of charge.

A family crisis landed a 2 year old on our doorstep.

This one is the biggie. We don’t know how long she’ll be here, but in the meantime, we have two children under three in the house, one of which is very insecure and traumatized. Both of us are exhausted. (Oh well…we’ll sleep when we’re dead.)

Floyd is turning out to be much better with children, even toddlers, than we ever dreamed. It took him about two months to become T’s staunch guardian, and about two hours to warm up to his newest charge. The girls share the room next to ours and the previous homeowner took the door between the two. We haven’t found the odd-sized door needed to replace it yet, so the rooms are only separated by a curtain. Floyd will get up periodically during the night and check on both girls to be sure they are all right and breathing. It’s really adorable to watch him shove his snout as far as he can between the bars of T’s crib to sniff at her.

Normally we cook all our dinners at home and have leftovers for lunch the next day. Not last night. Last night we ordered pizza, because yeah, that’s the kind of day it was.

More posts will come soon, I promise!

Weekly Farm Update 4-6-14

I know this post is a couple of days late, but things have been really crazy around here. Now that spring has finally arrived I seem to be getting exponentially busier. I promise I’ll keep posting no matter now busy I get!

The weekends are the busiest time for me, because Kelly works all day on Saturday and Sunday and I’m home by myself with baby T. She’s slowly growing into a toddler and does a great job of wearing me out even when I don’t have other things to do!

Here’s what happened on the farming side of things this week:

The cover crop is in!

Not only is all of it in, but the first sprouts are up. Check it out.

Sprouts

The weather has been perfect; not too hot, not too cold, and just enough rain to coax seeds to sprout.

All the starts have been moved outside during the daytime.

All are doing well, except the dill and cilantro. We lost all of the dill and most of the cilantro to some sort of fungal illness. It happened too late to be damping off. I’m at a lot to explain it. I’ll direct seed some of each this week and see if they take right in the garden. If not, I’ll be calling the seed company.

We rehabilitated and inaugurated our firepit.

The firepit was filled with trash and weeds when we moved it. This week we cleaned it out and had some friends over for a bonfire and some s’mores. I didn’t get any pictures of the fire itself, as the smoke and record levels of pollen in the air sent me inside for my inhaler within a few minutes, but here’s a picture of the firepit the next morning.

firepit

I got a big surprise.

Last fall a friend gave me a cherry tree. It appeared dead. I’m usually pretty good at telling the difference between living and dead trees. It’s easy enough to tell if a tree is alive, but making sure it’s dead is another thing. To misquote Miracle Max, tree can be dead but not all the way dead. Anyway, I put it in a pot for the winter because why not? It only cost some potting soil. Sometimes trees surprise you. This one did. Look what I found when I checked my pots this week:

cherry tree

Hello! It looks like I may have to redo the orchard plan.

I attended the orientation meeting for our market.

We got into a farmer’s market for the summer! We’ll only be there once a month, but it’s a start. We have an assigned space and everything.

Here’s what’s on the agenda for next week:

-Start that blasted fence. I’ve got most of the materials now. I just need to get to work.

-Get all of the herbs transplanted and/or sown.

-Plant the edamame and the cool/warm weather greens like swiss chard.

Fixing the Fence

Our plans for the week have been interrupted by a very important task: fixing the fence so the dogs can’t get out. Take a look at this hole.

Hole in Fence

This is what happens when a 60 pound dog gets desperate to escape an unreinforced chain link fence. Meet Princess, a 9 year old lab mix.

Princess

What’s she mixed with? Your guess is as good as mine. Princess is an adorable, lovable mess of a dog, just like most labs, and like most labs, she has two big faults that training has never been able to entirely eliminate: she’s a glutton and she likes to roam.

As to the former, my beloved mutt will eat anything. I can’t count the number of times she has eaten something she shouldn’t have (or too much of something that’s normally all right) and gotten sick. She’s the sort of dog you have to keep the dog food hidden from, or she’ll eat herself sick.

Her roaming tendencies weren’t a problem for the first 7 years of her life. We lived in a house with a 7-foot privacy fence around the backyard. She knew there was an outside world, but she never saw it, at least from the back yard, and she didn’t care to dig out because of that. The few times she got was through the front door, and it was easy enough to catch her in our quiet neighborhood.

Then we moved into a cheaper rental to save money to devote to our homesteading dream. This house had a chain link fence and a very interesting neighborhood. We spent countless hours and a lot of money patching her escape routes. When we bought this house in August, it had a privacy fence around a quarter of the back yard and a garage wall blocking an eighth of it. We knew we had to put something up in a hurry, and we didn’t have the money for a privacy fence, so chain link it was. We mistakenly assumed it wouldn’t be a problem since we were now in the country and didn’t have so many dogs and interesting neighbors in every direction.

Wrong. Labs love the country. They’re bred to be hunting dogs, after all. It took her less than a day to get out the first time. I looked up and she was chasing a rabbit across the field. We’ve been slowly reinforcing the fence ever since. She created the above hole while we were in the back tending to our trees. She thought she’d join us.

So, to fix the fence. We got this role of tension wire for about $20 at Home Depot.

Tension Wire

(The workbench isn’t always this messy. I promise.)

We’re stringing it through the bottom of the fence to make it harder for her to dig under. It proved to be too tough to bend around the wires and fix the gate, so we fixed it temporarily using wire from some old marking flags. We’re looking for ways to fix it permanently. (Suggestions are very welcome.)

If this doesn’t work, we’re going to concrete the bottom of the fence.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of baby T. eating her first slice of watermelon:

First Watermelon