Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 23

Welcome!  This post is part of a 31 Day series.  If you'd like to read other entries, please click here.

Well now, that was an unanticipated absence.  Our large family likes to share, which makes a perfect companion for pathogens of the virus type.  Five of the eight of us fell victim to the flu.  Slowly we are returning to health, and I can nurture wellness at home and give some attention to this story.  I work well under pressure, but it's clearly beyond me to fit the last seven days into the one remaining day of October.  So, we'll revise the project, yes?  And I'll just keep telling the story.

I've mentioned more than once that for substantial portions of the initial demolition and renovation process our family was divided.  You'll remember then that a great deal of mess making and future building occurred while I kept our city life humming along off site.

From a writer's standpoint it is more difficult to give shape the chronology and events with my words since although I have primary accounts of what happened, I would go for weeks at a time without laying my eyes on our progress.  In hindsight I'm grateful for the capacity Weekend Farmer Husband and I had to trust one another and the level of optimism we cultivated and protected in order to press on.

I don't have lots of construction stories to tell or "how to's" to offer for the six months we spent dedicated to initial interior renovations.

I did take lots of pictures though when I made the trip out to the country.

So, for today at least (and maybe beyond), I'll try to tell the story with images and offer my limited words about the scope of the project pictured.

You've seen this hallway before - from the other direction.
Unbelievably, although we've stripped away so much, we're going to take it even further - doors gone, 2x4 framing gone, and yes, we even got rid of the mouse's nest visible in the header.

The only thing I can think of when I see this floor again is "nerve damage".  Weekend Farmer Husband spent 4 days with a heat gun and 2 inch scraper to get the tar, asbestos tile, and adhesive  off what had earlier discovered are hand milled maple planks.  When he finished, he'd sustained sufficient nerve damage in his shoulder that it took months for him to recover from numbness and tingling.  

Really?  You can't tell what this is?  Well, since there wasn't any heat or cool in the upstairs, we ran a trunk from the basement, into the attic, and then like an octopus, arms branch out into the different rooms in the second story from the attic.  As for the rest of the space, well can't you just picture it?  It's the en suite bath for the master bedroom!  It can get pretty cozy in there during the winter months thanks to that great big metal thing ushering air from the furnace to the upstairs!

The upstairs demolition has long since been completed, but we're still not done stripping away layers. We've started to get some insulation on the walls, but have managed for now to preserve some of the striking pink trim...ahem.  Even though we're indoors we're wearing winter gear and trying to judiciously use the kerosene heater.  Baby it's cold!  For the record, this photo is taken from inside what was to become the girls room closet, you're looking through the boys room, and into the master through the worlds coziest and perhaps smallest master bathroom.

This picture's kind of neat...you're standing between what is eventually to become the entrance to the master bath, and the opposite wall.  The blue trim on the left will be replaced and the room door hung there.  See the planking?  We quickly discovered that our home utilized balloon frame construction and see the varying sizes of the boards?  We have reason to believe the much of the wood for the home was hand milled on site.  It's hard as rock and sturdy.  Although the house is a little drafty still, it's stands firm in storms.

One of the most important spaces in the home, the future site of a half bath in the upstairs hallway.  There was this startlingly large landing area at the top of the stairs that appeared to never have been used for any purpose other than connecting the top of the stairs with the hallway leading to the kids bedrooms.  It's the most diminutive room in the house, barely measuring a hair over 20 square feet!

We did a floor to ceiling demo (and then some) to the bathroom on the main floor.  Measuring 7 feet wide and 13 feet long, it is a generous space, but the previous owners had vastly underused it's potential.

You're getting it now aren't you?  Of course we rebuilt the ceiling, ran new ductwork, exhaust lines, and electric!

Standing inside the bathroom and looking at where the shower used to be, you're viewing the future home of a stacking washer and dryer, a very large cold air return (covered by a bulkhead) and wire shelves for laundry supplies and such.  The door to the bathroom is just off the kitchen.

Score!  We've found an old claw foot tub on Craigslist.  It will need to be refinished, and it eventually is - but, it doesn't get installed until 7 months after we move in!!!

Some people might call this a kitchen counter.  Not so.  This is the drop spot for the daily (well probably not really...) supply run to the local hardware store.  Occasionally it would get cleared off for minimal food preparation...I didn't ask too many questions about those practices.  I'm the mother of sons - there are some things I prefer not to know.

Frankly, there are hundreds of additional photos that detail the metamorphosis.  Please, come visit.  I'll speak to you in my love language of hospitality, a good drink (coffee, tea, a glass of wine...), plentiful fresh food,  and share the images. But, I'm starting to think that for the purposes of this series, you've got a pretty good idea of the scope of what we took on.

A couple of readers have had some queries that give me new ideas for other posts.  Will you chime in too?  
I'd love to answer your questions and comments - what gaps have I left so far, or what seems obvious to you that I'm just too close to notice?

I'm so so glad you came back! 
Do it again, yes?
There's more to tell.

Thank you Nester for creating the 31 Days series.  Although my socks got knocked quite off last week and I've not been faithfully posting, I've been so grateful for the opportunity.
Have you checked out the other bloggers who took up the gauntlet?  They're pretty amazing...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days to Green Acres - Interrupted

This post is smack dab in the middle of  31 Days series.  It has nothing to do with the topic.
If you'd like to read entries from the Green Acres posts, please click here.

We've been cooking along on 31 Days to Green Acres pretty well haven't we?

I don't think I've been as disciplined to write with this frequency ever before.
In college there was more time between assignments, and even if they were frequent, I definitely pulled an all nighter tended to concentrate my efforts right before the due date rather than write every day.

I've appreciated the discipline of being here and my brain feels more awake in relationship to content.
I still at least on a emotional level, if not practical, wrestle with what and how of organizing story.
So, we keep coming here, right?
Me to tell the story, and then you to read, and we grow in relationship.

Several weeks ago, in early October, we were given a glorious Indian Summer day and the youngest of the children and I whisked away to the lake shore to glory in the beauty of creation.

We'll be enjoying another unseasonably warm day at the farm today. Gift.
But, I'll not be devoting much time to the blog.

Illness has laid us low and this mama must nurture a return to health.

Come back, yes?
I will, and I always do so with the hope of meeting you here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

31 Days to Green Acres - Day 22

Welcome.  This post is one of many in a 31 Days series.  If you'd like to read the other entries, please click here.

It's a funny  thing with demolition.  Only a few minutes of heavy blows with the hammer or crowbar produces hours of follow up work and restoration.

You can loose your perspective a little bit - both ways.
Either you feel like , "Aw, look at that pile.  It's already so huge we might as well keep going.  What's another couple sheets of drywall anyway?"
Or, you can barely breathe, and not because of the dust, but rather you have shocking and sudden clarity on what you've just destroyed, and have a jolting realization that it's up to you to put it all back together again.
These perspectives share the stage.
Sometimes they share the song and dance number, and sometimes, (only briefly), they have a solo act.

One of the welcome gifts for us in restoring Liberty Farm was that Libby has never looked too awful from the outside.

In fact, she can be downright welcoming and cheery standing tall among the trees on the slight rise to the property.

That's her on the day we first met.  I saw her first.  It wasn't long before I called Weekend Farmer Husband and made arrangements for him to meet me.  We wrote an offer within hours of our first meeting.

A few other factors made and still make the property inviting.
Wide open pastures are the perfect canvas for a frame of trees on the property line, and tall grasses bend a hello.  Tall old trees stoop to greet us.  Ten fenced acres hem us in and define what has seemed like a vast expanse to this city girl.  The long U shaped driveway makes an easy entrance and a gentle farewell.

All this loveliness became all the more dear as soon as you walked in the door.  Your senses assaulted, all one wanted to do was make it go away.

So we did.

First we removed floor coverings in all sections of the house except the bathroom, kitchen, and back entry.
Above is a photo of one end of the living room and below is the upstairs hallway where the kids bedrooms are.

Then the walls started coming down.
This perspective below no longer exists.
There's now a wall where you see the sawn off 2x4's, and 3 bunks from floor to ceiling on the boys room side and a double closet on the girls side.

The black and blue trim?  Oh yeah, that's a thing of the past.
Again, this view has vanished, but the photo was taken from what is now the boys room looking through to what became the girls room.

"Hey guys, have you seen my hammer?"
For reals - our friend's hammer is somewhere in an area landfill.
We never found it in the pile above and eventually the mountain of debris was carted off to the dumpster.

Notice won't you that there's still lap on the walls, studs to frame rooms, and ceilings in these photographs.
I wasn't around to take the pictures, but that all went away.
The upstairs was gutted to the  inside surface of the exterior boards, and only one 6-8 foot section of wall remained in the interior space.
We re-framed the entire upstairs save for the one little section of load bearing wall I just mentioned.

I don't exactly remember how long it took us to make this much of a mess.
Confidently, I can assure you that it was only a matter of days.

Thank you Nester for being such a gracious hostess.  
Have you enjoyed checking in on the other 31 Days Bloggers?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 21

This post is one of several in a 31 Day series.  If you'd like to read others, please click here.

Beautiful day here at the farm.

First, we worshiped.

Such breathtaking liberty.  Grateful.

And, we rested..

And then, I reached for the camera.

Thank you Nester for inspiring and hosting 31 Days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days to Green Acres - Day 20

Welcome!  This post is one of a 31 Days series.  To read other related posts,  please click here.

Initially we planned to repair the section of roof I showed you yesterday, replace floor coverings, add heat and cool to the second story, put hanging bars in the old weird closets, frame and build a wall between what was to become the boys and the girls rooms, and freshen paint throughout the home.

That's all.

I'm not trying to be the master of understatement. We felt that the above list was manageable given our time and resources.

The horrible, smelly, organic nature of mildew and mold would be addressed by accomplishing the above and we didn't want to get stuck having to move quickly and find ourselves in a massive push to move while still finishing up the farmhouse.

We didn't know what we didn't know.

In spite of multiple showings each week on the city house, we went ten months without a single potential buyer indicating they were even keeping us on their short list.

And, every time we set foot in the old farmhouse we thought of some other cool thing to try to build or fix.

Before we knew it, quite spontaneously mind you, we had demoed the entire house - except the kitchen.

I'm so grateful in hindsight that's how it worked out.

Time was again our friend and so we just kept making improvements and learning new skills.

The youngsters stayed in town with me so as not to disrupt nap schedules etc. and the older kids established a routine of getting their schoolwork done, scooting on out to the farm, meeting their dad after his work day, getting some projects done, and then doing it all over again.

And by consistently keeping our shoulder to the wheel, each of us doing our part, (here's where you think I'm gonna say something positive, right?), it got a lot worse before it got better.

Wait until you see.

Thank you Nester for hosting the 31 Days blogging event.  If you'd like to check in on 1200+ other bloggers who joined in, click here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 19

Welcome!  This post is one of a 31 Day series.  If you'd like to read the other entries, please click here.

We didn't actually begin work on the roof until November 20th.
Pushing it, I know.

From the outside it didn't look "too bad".


Okay, I'm fooling us all - it looked bad.

 Cheerful (and experienced) workers always welcome at Liberty Farm!

   Oh, so much dust and debris!  A couple of these farm kids had some respiratory sensitivities.  Respirators were required for a good portion of all our projects.  They have a dedicated bin in our tool room.

It was fun making a mess and throwing stuff off the roof. Yes, yes, we kept it clear of people below.

Now that's a fine looking manager perched on  the window!

Yup, this is what caused the problem - a poorly installed sky light.

See what I mean?

Oooo, the dads got all the fun - it didn't even shatter on the ground.  That made clean up a little easier.

Okay, everyone, that's a wrap for today.  Supper's on us, and will you please come back tomorrow?  And, when we give prayerful thanks at this evening's meal, we'll pray for clear skies tonite since there's a moon roof (gaping hole) under our feet.

Next morning was mild and sunny.  Gift.

The workers remained cheerful...

and teachable.

Surveying our work and offering thanks to the crew, Weekend Farmer Husband calls it a wrap.

One down, 999,999 to go!

Thanks Nester for hosting a host of other bloggers for 31 Days!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 18

Welcome! This post is part of a 31 Day Series.  To read other entries, please click here.

*Ahem - cough* I do have photographs to accompany my brief text below.  I'm not computer savvy enough though to plug in the hard drive on which said pictures are stored to my son's computer (where the hard drive "lives").  Please come back to see?

For now though, we'll stick with the chronological approach and get y'all started off with one of my "I'm obsessed with cute cows photos  funny farm pictures just cuz. (Yes, yes, I play vith vords...)

Around these parts November 13, 2009 is translated, "Snow's gonna fly soon!"

I mentioned holes in the roof yes?

Roof fixin' and snow flyin' aren't the best combo for safety practices if you know what I mean.

It was obvious that was the place to begin.

And, we were given a wonderful gift - mild autumn weather for getting our feet wet in this endless sea of renovation.

Furthermore, the beautiful weather was made sweeter by the gift of friends giving of time and labor to help us get started.

Snow held off, we finished our roof project, and the action moved indoors.

Thanks Nester for spearheading this epic adventure!  Other bloggers along for the ride can be found here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 17

Welcome!  This post is part of a 31 Day series.  If you'd like to read the other entries, please click here.
Photo credit K.G. Steffens

Once, a long time ago, I was bold enough to share a close up of an injury I'd sustained moving too fast in the dark of night.  It involved pores which by default means it was probably TMI.

I'm tempted to show you another close up of a new injury - but, I'm not gonna.
I can't decide if it's too much, after all, my fingernail is almost entirely black and my finger twice its normal size.
Maybe it's not really all that spectacular, and I don't want to disappoint you with a benign looking finger.

What happened?
Well, all tall tales aside, I slammed a van door shut on my right hand.

And it's too much to type too much more.
It has been for several days.

Wimpy. Wimpy. Wimpy.
Or wise?

I know mom, I risk loosing readers again with presenting content that lacks substance.
But, you've actually seen my offended digit and I'm sure you'll agree that a sweet picture is enough for today.

Compression. Ice. Ibuprofen.
And maybe tomorrow some pics of our first big renovation?

Thank you Nester for the opportunity to join in a community of other 31 Dayers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 16

Welcome! Thanks for stopping by.  This post is part of a 31 Day series.  To find the other entries, click  here.

Closing on a foreclosed home ended up being one of the easiest parts of this whole journey.

There were virtually no glitches, negotiations, and in the end no troubles or surprises.

And for a few short weeks, aside from ongoing showings at the city house, all was quiet and we enjoyed the naive rest that precedes a whole house demolition, rebuild, and surprise love affair with a lifestyle that we never intended.

We planned, we dreamed, we waited.

And on November 13, 2009 we bought the farm.

Kind of a package deal, we bought the standing water in the house, the urine soaked carpet, the breathtakingly ugly woodwork and trim, the mold and mildew, and the gaping holes in the roof as well.

If that sounds bad to you, multiply it by...maybe a million?

In fact, it was so bad when a family member who we love and trust very much toured our dream home (before we closed),  for the first time, she called her husband and asked him to stop us - from what she saw (and to be fair it was a horror show), we were in way over our heads.

Lucky for you the pictures can only tell part of the story.

Our noses will never forget the rest.

Thank you Nester for hosting the 31 Days blogapalooza.  Find out what other bloggers are saying here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days of Green Acres - Day 15

Welcome! This post is part of a 31 Day series.  If you'd like to read others from the series, please click  here.

Remember my son, you know the one who was struggling to write a paper for his college class?

He got "unstuck" while I'm still trying to find my way.

It is not a small irony that he chose to write about Liberty Farm.

I know you want to read it.

It's good.

And, you always see things here from my point of view.
His is similar, but with his own voice.

Prepare to be amazed.

I might be biased, but I think he should get an "A". Just sayin'.

His criteria- 2 pages.  Begin with the words, "I'm from..."

Liberty Farm

       I’m from Liberty Farm, a modest 1,700 square foot house that rests on a beautiful plot of ten acres, with two barns and a big hole we call the pond. The house, which is set only thirty feet from the road is almost always sheltered from the sun by two gigantic trees both of which stand towering over the house, one to the east and one to the south. The tree that grows to the east is a Catalpa, and like many trees of this variety it has grown to be very old, and also very large. Its long curving branches extend to almost unimaginable lengths, holding up the large heart shape leaves native to its kind. This tree is a favorite of the barn cats who make a regular habit of being stuck in its lofty heights. Equal in magnitude to the Catalpa, the tree to the south is a maple. Humungous gnarly branches raised ever toward the sky are now adorned with the red leaves of fall.

     Behind the shadowed wall of trees lies my house, a tall yellow affair, with statuesque narrow white trimmed windows, and dark red shutters. From the outside, it appears a pleasant place to live, and it is. Warm old maple boards cover most of the floor, sanded smooth with meticulous attention to detail. The wood has retained all of its original glory. Deep grooves between the planks, filled with dust and debris from decades before, provide dark lines of contrast against the amber glow of the boards. Thick white trim borders the floor. Spattered with scuffs and scratches,the trim bears the marks of many shoes and feet which have traveled this way before. A mix of ceiling fixtures and exposed light bulbs cast their illuminating rays down throughout the house, and give light to the robin's egg blue staircase which leads upstairs.

     Upstairs is a clear view of the barns, both bright red works in progress. The horse barn is used
for almost everything except horses. The roof, covered in solar panels, looks incongruent on the otherwise very old barn. Like a black eye, the square clean lines of the panels appear uncomfortable and unnatural, like dark bruises on an otherwise unblemished face. This disparity vanishes in light of their practical purpose, providing renewable energy for the farm.

     Under the roof, the dusty old barn serves to primarily house chickens, and tall towers of boxes. Chickens provide the unmistakable smell of live stock, further adding nostalgia while the boxes, although unsightly, make room for improvements in the other barn, known simply as the pole barn. Skinned in thin red aluminum siding the pole barn still wears its original color, while the roof's formerly steely hue has given way to the rust that comes with age. Inside the hard, dark, gray concrete floor is a recent addition, along with the half done ceiling. This barn does not smell like chickens, but rather, piles of lumber which will soon make up the rest of the ceiling and walls. The very back of the pole barn tucks into the fence like a plug in a dam holding in seven acres of pasture.

     Used for raising cows, the pasture has three small shelters placed throughout. The expanse of grass now faded yellow with the onslaught of fall, is hunched over, tired from a long season of growth. Low lying brambles now in view reside in the back of the property, a thorny bed I to this day have never seen a cow tired enough to sleep on. The fences that encase most of our property makes a square.
     On freedom's side of the fence, our pond, really more of a puddle is home to six ducks. Following this summer's drought the water is only about three inches deep, but come spring that will change and it can reach depths of almost four feet. Our farm ducks much prefer the greater pond depth of spring.

     Though I haven’t always called Liberty Farm my home it seems difficult to imagine living anywhere else. The lifestyle of the farm is something I've grown to love. At first, having moved away from a busy neighborhood, the relative isolation of rural living was disconcerting. Gradually, the palpable simplicity of life at Liberty Farm with its wide open spaces and sustainable way of living has yielded contentment.

Thank you Nester for hosting the 31 Days series.  Interested in reading what 1200+ other bloggers have to say?  Click here.