Posts tagged ‘country living’

Moving On To New Pastures

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

I call it adventures in living. I will be absent from this blog for a while. The time is undetermined, as I will be working along with my sidekick, building a new life, new dreams, and taking a leap of faith. During this time, I will be unable to reply to any comments or comment on any of my favorite blogs. I will miss you all, and as soon as I am able to return to blogging, I will share some of the process. I hope you don’t forget Inkspeare and stop by to read some of the older posts. We will be relocating to more natural and bucolic surroundings, and disconnected for a little while.

Wish us luck, keep us in your prayers, and may God bless you all.

Love,

Inkspeare

Restoring an Old Farmhouse – 2013 Goals

Today is the 1 month Anniversary of my attempt to complete 60 days of fitness in the hopes of creating a habit of it.  I have to say that I do feel a difference in my stamina and energy levels.  One thing that I will not do is weigh myself as of yet.  Reason – I tend to gain weight when I exercise, but then it melts, and I don’t want to be discouraged by a number, although fitness is the goal.  I need to work on increasing my fitness level because this year, I have a lot of work to tackle – tons of projects going on, from publishing and writing books, to evolve the Owl, Book and Candle … and the main reason for being fit – the old farmhouse.

Hubby and I have a lot of work for 2013.  One of the things that we have to do this year is to tackle that old farmhouse “with gusto” and see how much progress we can afford to do.  I mean, it is getting old, and it is easy to lose momentum, especially when you are working with a very tight budget and your bare hands.  We  came up with a rough list of “farmhouse goals” for 2013, which will help us in scheduling the trips .  This is what we have so far, and the order in which we do things have not been decided yet – since much depends on budget.

  • Work on electrical
  • Work on plumbing
  • Work on roof (which has been delayed because it is the most expensive item on the list)
  • Reinforce all woods
  • Open backroom floor, replace and reinforce as needed (this has been delayed due to plumbing issues)
  • Do a second extermination (still seeing black widows around) – in fact, on the last trip, Eddie lifted a piece of cement block that was on the floor outside, next to the water tanks, and there was a black widow underneath, thankfully he did not put his hand/fingers on that area.  So this is a big concern of mine – these spiders, which seem to have multiplied in the area.
  • Build small doors outside where the crawl space access is, since the ones they had there are rotten.  We can leave it open; however, it will be a safe haven for wildlife and we don’t want to do that.
  • Build closets and install closet doors.
  • Trim a few trees (not a priority, just so it does not become the jungle it was when we discovered the rough gem)
  • We have to patch two walls that we are keeping.
  • Gut the bathroom which has not been totally gutted because we cannot leave a hole where the toilet is, so snakes and all kind of creepy crawlers may get in (yeap, this is lovely)
  • Cleaning is a constant chore when we get there because bugs get in through the gutted walls and ceiling and die with the heat or cold weather, but they don’t go to die somewhere else, they stay and die inside.  I have not seen any snakes inside so far, which is good.  Last time we vacuum the entire place and walls and left it very clean.  However, my sister went to check things out and there were a few bugs inside (dead), mostly stink bugs, wasps, and lady bugs or their copycat beetles.

These are things that have to be done this year, and ideally, we would like to accomplish these also; however, it may take winning the lottery or a miracle, but since anything is possible, here is the rest of the list.

  • Put up walls
  • Put up ceilings
  • Put up all fixtures and lighting
  • Do the bathroom and finish it
  • Do the kitchen – The kitchen is to mimic what the original kitchen would have looked like, which means no wall cabinets, however, I will do a few (minimal) base cabinets for counter space and storage, which I know I have to do, but I am fighting myself because I truly wanted it to look like an old kitchen.  And of course, appliances are a necessity so those have to be installed since I am not cooking on a heat stove and I am not using salt to preserve food.  In addition, I am not going to wash clothes by hand, so washer and dryer are a must (I have a ceiling cap for certain aspects of the simple lifestyle).  The key here is to get away with the minimal without disturbing my sanity, while enjoying a very simple lifestyle.  Simple lifestyle is the main concern here.  Appliances required are washer, dryer, refrigerator/freezer, and stove.  The rest are non essentials, at least in my opinion.  Dishwasher?  Don’t need one since I love to do the dishes.
  • Put up flooring
  • Insulation
  • Install heat sources (pellet stove)
  • Install water connections from the well and shock purify the source
  • Clean the septic
  • Paint inside
  • Clean the under part of the house (crawl space)

These are items that will have to wait until we move there,

  • Clear up the landscape and trim many bushes
  • Paint the house outside
  • Create a small garden and sitting area/grilling area
  • Cement around the house to reduce dirt dust (just a small area around the foundation and front areas
  • Clear landscape to select areas for the Farmette developing
  • Build a garage and workshop
  • Move the stuff in storage inside/decorate
  • Create a greenhouse
  • Start building up the fencing and farmette working areas
  • Whatever else has to be done, since just by writing this list I am exhausted already (hence the need to increase my fitness level).

So here it is, the immense list of tasks which most of them have to be done this year – don’t ask me how, but hopefully they will – let’s keep things in the positive.  In tomorrow’s post I will show you a blueprint of what the farmette plan looks like (in dream-design only).  Hope that you enjoyed this post; I am exhausted.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse – Summer Trip

With just a couple of weeks to go, it is time to set up the agenda for the next “restoration trip” and I have to say that although we have done a lot with a very tight budget, we still have a long way to go and it seems that the roof will make us break the original budget of $13,000 for the entire project.  The estimate for the roof is around $5,000, which as you can see, will take us up to roughly the amount of the original budget.  But we have decided to hold off on the roof for a couple months.  So far, we have spent (tightly) $7245 on work and materials, not counting the expenses on gas, food, and other misc that the trip require (about $500 each trip).    Now, some big-ticket items such as windows had to be custom-made due to the size and opening of the original windows not matching standard materials, and pretty much, that has been the story with everything else we have attempted, and that is, we are doing much of the work ourselves (except for the windows and termite/bug treatments).  Just to give you and idea of the condition of the house from when we spotted it until now, this earlier post describes it best, at least on the outside.  For more pictures and details you can type farmhouse on the search box of this blog and it will bring up some older posts.

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/restoring-an-old-farmhouse-on-a-budget-2/

Once we get past the roof, the next big-ticket item will be the well, that is, if it is dry – as we don’t know for sure.  Then, the rest will be easier.  So far, this trip’s agenda looks like this.

Saturday – Drive there.

Sunday – Cut the blessed grass – again.

Monday – Finish the steps outside and paint them.  Clean the inside, plus we have to vacuum the entire place and eliminate some debris that is still inside.  That will take all day.  Take measurements for Tuesday’s job.  Measure the inside stairs as well.

Tuesday – We are planning to build the frame for the upstairs closets.  If there is any time left, we will start working on the next day job.

Wednesday – We need to spackle and fix the stairway wall, which we are keeping since the stairs where build after it was up.  We figured that since it is still in good shape it only needs some spackle, sanding, and some paint much later.  We are planning on highlighting this wall and make it a family tree wall later on, where family pics will hang.  We also want to work on fixing the steps, which have to be built new and have a non-standard shape and size – it figures.

Thursday – Finish working on steps if not finished.  That day we plan to work on opening the floor in the backroom and fix/support any beams that may need support.  We will have to lay down the wood without nailing as the burst plumbing presents an issue.

Friday – Finish anything that needs to be done from this agenda.  Some beams upstairs need a bit of reinforcement which won’t take much time.  If nothing else, then we can tackle fixing the outside porch beams, which need that some of the wood be replaced, but we are looking at that as an extra task.

Saturday – We will travel back to Jersey.

The budget for this trip is $1300.00 which includes gas, food, materials, and some miscellaneous.  Let’s see how we do this time.

DIY But Not That Easy – Restoring an Old Farmhouse (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

Last week we drove to VA to do some work on the old farmhouse.  We try to recycle materials that are still in good usable shape before buying new.  As I mentioned before, the rules are DIY (when possible), cash-only tight budget, recycle materials (when possible), use local help/businesses (when we cannot DIY).  As promised, here is the budget/costs of the work we did.

The total cost for this agenda was $2,125.35 and this was under budget.  It included:

  • Food – $104.47 (This is thanks to my sister and brother-in-law who fed us at night, and let us stay with them during that week).  Guys you rock!
  • Gas – $408.65 – This includes the round trip from Jersey to Virginia, as well as the everyday drive from my sister’s home to the farmhouse which takes about an hour.
  • Materials – $902.23 – This included door, storm door, wood, paint, hardware, special tools to do the job that we did not have at hand, and other miscellaneous needed.
  • Services – $710.00 – This included the complete bug treatment and the termite treatment.  The bug treatment was inside and out, and the termite treatment included the drilling and the trench building around the house.

So far, we have kept ourselves on budget, however, I think that the plumbing situation and possible dry well (according to some neighbors’ stories), will affect our budget; however, no need to worry about that just yet.  The roof estimate is also $1,000 over what we estimated but this is due to extra work that they have to do.  According to some people we talk to, we are getting a good deal.  We are doing this restoration in steps, planning our budget for each stage, and dealing with issues as related to a particular stage, which makes it less overwhelming.  The goal is to restore the home to its old beauty, as close as possible to what it looked like when it was built, over 100 years ago, which only means that fancy and modern materials do not belong in the project, which keeps our budget low.  In addition, reusing, repurposing, and recycling applies.  We are not changing the layout or opening any walls/spaces; it will be done as it was done when the house was built.  The look we are going for is farmhouse early American, a bit rough and old-fashioned.  The goal is to capture the feeling of stepping back in time about 100 years.  One thing I have to say is that it works for us but not for a lot of people; some people may not like it at all, and may think that we are either,

  • insane/crazy
  • hungry/poor
  • tacky or cheap
  • in bad taste
  • city slickers
  • foreseeing a divorce
  • hippies
  • suffer from obsessive behavior

While other people will

  • love it
  • be inspired to do the same or follow their bliss
  • admire us and give us credit for the undertaking of such project
  • benefit from learning how to do things without the need of credit cards and on a low-budget
  • appreciate the simple life
  • understand our taste
  • wish us well

It is not an easy job.  My first (and I hope only) meltdown came unexpected.  Little did I know that after a beautiful country ride, passing by the many creeks that have the most unusual (and cute) names – Pan fry creek, Potter’s creek, Piggs creek – ahead, my first unexpected meltdown was waiting for me, as I sat down, for about an hour, crying inside the air-conditioned truck, mindless of that fact (waste), and feeling entitled to some comforts, while looking at the blister on the palm of my hand and feeling sorry for myself, while my husband looked amused at my out-of-the-sudden-tamtrum, which was caused by the same overgrown grass/bushes that we have to cut on every trip, and the black widow lurking on one of the tractors.  After I had a snack and enjoyed the comforts of the truck, I was ready to tackle the job.

Here are a few pictures of the job we did on this trip and the area.

The beautiful and inspiring roads.

The lovely morning sky.

A foggy morning.

Waking up before the moon goes to sleep.

The farmland of many dreams.

The happy signs we pass by.

One of two rainbows I saw that day.

An adorable visitor – calico mom to be.

Chemtrail formation – I saw many on that day.

Historic Chatham

Downtown and some historic buildings.

The tractor batteries had to be charged, as they died.  The machines had to be blown with a leaf blower to make sure there were no spiders hiding.

The grass is cut, after the meltdown.

Black Widow Eggs?  We found tons of those around.

The bug people arrived to the rescue.  I loved this friendly company and how they helped us right away.  They rock!

We removed the damaged wood in the kitchen floor.

Replaced with new wood but were unable to nail because the plumbing underneath burst, and we will need access to it.

Busted Pipes.

Rotten back door and weak floor/wall.

Condition of rotten floor, subfloor, frame.

Weak wall

Removed door and frame leaving a non-standard opening.

Removed piece of subfloor and floor to fix the weak areas underneath while lifting the room.

New door and screen door installed once everything was fixed.  This blue is the original color of the house as we found out when we saw the first layer of paint on the porch ceiling.  I had picked this color way before we discovered it; I guess the house spoke to me.  We were unable to fix the steps which need to be cemented and painted.  The railing we kept, painted it, and maybe in the future it will be replaced with a fiberglass railing which does not rot, hopefully recycled or made with recycled materials.  We still need to install a door plate, maybe next trip.  We built the awning trying to mimic what it would look during that time, using tin and wood.  Here are more pictures of the back door and awning.  It is not crooked, I assure you, the pictures came out like that.  We used a level all the time.

So the back door went from this to this.

Once we fix the steps, paint them and paint the aluminum siding it will look better, but for now, it is an improvement.

Hope you enjoy this project.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse Update

Last week we drove to Virginia to do some work on the old farmhouse.  I was disconnected for a while and was unable to post on this blog.  I am pleased to say that we accomplished most things in the agenda.  This was the agenda and * means what really happened:

Day 1 (SUNDAY) – Cut all grass and spruce up outside (this takes all day).  Set up a roof estimate.

*THIS WAS DONE ON TIME AND THE ESTIMATE WAS SET UP ON MONDAY FOR A TUESDAY.

Day 2 (MONDAY) – Pull out all nails from the old wooden walls.

*JOB COMPLETED ALTHOUGH WE HAD TO MOVE IT FOR WEDNESDAY, WHICH WAS A RAINY DAY, SO WE COULD WORK ON THE OTHER JOBS DURING SUNNY DAYS.  WE DECIDED TO SET UP A TERMITE AND BUG TREATMENT SINCE WE FOUND A FEW BLACK WIDOWS AROUND AND TONS OF HATCHED EGGS THAT LOOKED LIKE BLACK WIDOW EGGS.  WE DID TUESDAY’S JOB INSTEAD, WHICH WAS TO RIP OFF PART OF THE KITCHEN FLOOR THAT WAS DAMAGED AND REPLACE WITH NEW.  IN THE PROCESS, WE DISCOVERED THAT ALL THE PLUMBING RUNNING UNDER THE HOUSE WAS DAMAGED (BURST – HENCE THE DAMAGE TO THE FLOOR) SO WE HAD TO LAY THE FLOOR BUT COULD NOT NAIL IT DOWN AS THE PLUMBING HAS TO BE FIXED.

Day 3 (TUESDAY) –  Buy the necessary material/wood/doors.  Rip off the existing floor (subfloor) and start replacing with new.  Get to do the kitchen and possibly part of the backroom.

*WE DECIDED THAT IT WOULD BE A WASTE OF TIME TO WORK ON THE BACKROOM FLOOR NOW SINCE THE PLUMBING RUNS THAT WAY AND WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO NAIL DOWN THE NEW FLOOR.  WE HAD THE ROOF AND BUG ESTIMATES DONE AND WERE ABLE TO DO THE BUG TREATMENT AND SET UP THE TERMITE TREATMENT FOR FRIDAY MORNING.  SO WE TOOK THE NECESSARY MEASUREMENTS AND GOT THE MATERIALS NEEDED TO WORK ON FIXING THE BACK DOOR.  FOR THIS, IT WAS NECESSARY TO LIFT THAT PART OF THE HOUSE, REINFORCE THE WALLS, BUILD A NEW FRAME AND TAKE OUT THE ROTTEN SUBFLOOR AND FLOOR AS WELL AS THE OLD FRAME AND DOOR.

Day 4 (WEDNESDAY) –  Continue with the previous day job, until finished.  We expect to be done in two days.  Take measurements for the next day project.

*SINCE IT WAS RAINING, WE HAD TO WORK ON PULLING NAILS ALL DAY.

Day 5 (THURSDAY) – Build an awning for the back door to protect it from the elements and moisture.  That day we will buy the materials needed for that project, before heading to the house.  Measure and assess materials needed for next day project.

*WE HAD TO WORK ON LIFTING THAT PART OF THE HOUSE, FIXING THE DAMAGE TO PART OF THE SUBFLOOR, FRAME, AND BEAMS, AND SANDWICH SOME WEAK BEAMS.  WE TOOK OFF THE OLD ROTTEN DOOR AND OLD FRAME AS WELL.  THIS PART TOOK QUITE SOME TIME AND THE WORK EXTENDED TO NEXT DAY.  DURING THE EVENING, WE WENT TO GET A NEW DOOR AND SCREEN DOOR, WHICH WAS A CHALLENGE SINCE THE OPENING WAS NOT A STANDARD OPENING AND EVERYTHING HAD TO BE DONE FROM SCRATCH – BUILD A NEW FRAME AND CUT THE DOOR/SCREEN DOOR AS NEEDED TO MAKE IT FIT.  THIS WAS TRULY EXHAUSTING AND UNNERVING, BUT IT GOT DONE.

Day 6 (FRIDAY) –  We intend to fix the backdoor steps and paint them.

*THE TERMITE TREATMENT WAS COMPLETED.  WE HAD TO KEEP WORKING ON THE DOOR AND SCREEN DOOR.  ONCE INSTALLED, WE PAINTED IT.  WE REALIZED THAT IT WAS FRIDAY AND WE STILL NEEDED TO:

VACUUM THE PLACE

BUILD AN AWNING TO PROTECT THE NEW DOOR AND STORM DOOR.

PAINT THE AWNING

FIX AND PAINT THE STEPS AND RAILING.

SO WE DECIDED THAT WE COULD LEAVE PM ON SATURDAY AND TRY TO GET TO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ON SATURDAY AM.

Day 7 (SATURDAY) – Drive back home.

*WE BUILT THE AWNING, PAINTED IT, PAINTED THE RAILING, BUT WERE UNABLE TO FIX THE STEPS AND VACCUM THE INSIDE.  BUT WE WERE ABLE TO SWEEP MOST DEBRIS AND DISPOSE OF THE GARBAGE PROPERLY.  AT FIVE PM, WE WERE DRIVING BACK HOME UNDER A HEAVY RAIN STORM, WHICH EVENTUALLY, WE LEFT BEHIND THANKS TO NOT HAVING MUCH TRAFFIC.

We are happy that we accomplished most tasks and in the process, were able to meet new people, very nice people who came to say hello and welcome us.  We were also able to meet someone who will do the plumbing for us on a future trip.  We met one of the dairy farmers in the area, and a few new neighbors we had not met yet.  We learned more about the possible uranium mining in the area and we found out that it is only five miles from our location.  It is very clear to us that the residents don’t want this mining to happen and they are concerned about it.  We also learned about other hush-hush information on the issue that I cannot disclose on this blog, of course.

After we relaxed a bit from the hard work we did, I asked myself and my husband as well, is this all worth it, since there is a big possibility that the mining may go through?  Should we keep at it or should we consider a for sale sign?  We thought about it and realized that we loved the area, and we liked the people and their manners, as well as the friendly and beautiful environment that surrounds this area.  Chatham is certainly a very special place and we are hoping that it is kept that way.  There is a 50/50 chance that the mining will or will not happen, so we are taking the chance.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share some pictures.  I just noticed that this is my 500 post, and I am glad that it was about this topic 🙂

The Sweetness of Country Life

I love the country, and can’t wait for moving day.  Yes, I love the rural life and the solitude of green acres, the fresh morning scent, and the scent of fresh dirt that just got digged up … I can go on and on.  There is one WordPress blog that reminds me of that and is candy to my eyes – The Simple Life of a Country Man’s Wife

I have followed this blog and love its candor but also that every day is a little surprise for the reader.  Just as the blogger expresses it “A prairie woman choosing to enjoy each season, in weather and in life.”  This describes the blog well.  Here you will find farm life photos, inspirational scenery, the practical, the adorable, the useful, the real country life challenges in modern times, poetry, and anything that Country Man’s Wife wants to share that day.  You will also meet Country Man and all his country adventures and tasks.  The format is simple and uncomplicated, easy to the eyes and serene.  I will describe this blog as very refreshing.

If you love the country life, thinking about it, or just like a fresh approach to everyday life in the country, head to The Simple Life of a Country Man’s Wife and take a look.  It is certainly worth a visit and a following.

Gutting the farmhouse 2

For some reason the first post was too long and it cut half of my post, so I will have to split it in 2.

This is a tiny sample of the many trips to the dumpster.

CRITTERS

Empty shell of a weird bug.

This picture was taken by Tom.  The black widow was under the birdbath.  There are many types of black widows and a female can have more than 200 babies in one egg sack and as many as five sacks per mating.  You do the numbers, that is more than 1,000 babies.  I’d rather not think of that.

Happy birds at the birdbath, unsuspecting of what is lurking …

This picture was taken on one of our early trips when we had to clear all the weed and foliage that was surrounding the place.  To follow the restoration, you can just type farmhouse on the search box of this blog and it will give you the older posts.

Here are a few.

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/the-christmas-card-that-became-real/

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/closing-on-the-farmhouse/

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/memorial-day-at-the-farmhouse/

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/restoring-an-old-farmhouse-new-windows/

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/restoring-an-old-farmhouse-on-a-budget-2/

https://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/hitching-the-trailer-hitching-the-future/

 

As we continue the restoration until the day we finally move, I will keep posting pictures of the progress being made.