Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11, 2019

What a busy month!  We finished framing in the closet and the last of the framing and passed our framing rough-in with the help of Paul and Linda Turner.

We passed all of our plumbing rough-in inspection as we held pressure, didn't leak and the inspector liked the looks of our pipe configuration (FINALLY!!!!!,  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! ) Thanks so much to Ed and Amy for coming to help and inspire us.  We also had put in our hot water heater.  And Leah and I passed our mechanical inspection by putting in the dryer vent, the bathroom vent and the mini split.

Leah and I got in the wall insulation and passed the insulation inspection (John has had to go back to work as school is in!)

As we are running out of time, we hired a company to put in insulation in the roof and crawl space (honestly, it was cheaper than we could buy the insulation), and we got our neighbors to put in the dry wall, since neither John, nor I, nor Leah is extremely talented in this area.  Thanks Don and Sean!

Leah and I figured out a tile pattern and laid them while John was cutting tiles.  The tiles Leah and Jake picked out are beautiful!  Then we grouted them.

Now we are working on putting in beadboard, toilet and sink, as well as the upper back siding on the house.

We are also working on furniture.  We bought six shield back chairs for $50, repaired, painted and reupholstered them with $12 worth of fabric.  What a difference sanding and two coats of paint make!

I finished the bathroom vanity light fixture.  We are not sure what we might want to do about the glass globes in the future, but in the meantime and did a royal blue marble effect on the inside of the globes.

Jake and Leah put together the crib, and Leah painted the crib and changing table.  It looks so much better in black!  I can't wait to show you the plans Leah has for the baby nursery!  Can't wait!

Homesteading, you ask?  Well time and money can only be spent once I guess.  I did manage to make some fig preserves out of some figs my husband managed to find the time to pick. . .

Friday, August 2, 2019

August 2, 2019

Today was an exciting day!!  We got water!!  Danny came out from the town and turned it on for us, and was patient enough to turn it off and on while we worked out the leaks.  Thanks so much Danny!  And  a big thanks to Arnold also, as he uncovered the fact that we already had a 3/4" line and didn't have to dig one.  I love small towns!  The people are so helpful and friendly. 

Additionally today we went to the landfill, went to Lowe's, completed the electrical requirements from the real electrical inspector that got into town and came to do our rough-in inspection (but he apparently called in sick today and therefore didn't show up all day.)

Leah and I finished painting the final coat of paint on some of the trim, with her painting off of the ladder, and me painting on the ladder (she is into her 8th month of pregnancy.)

John and Jake worked on removing the shingles and tar paper from the bathroom roof, as once we worked on some things requested by the electrical inspector, we noticed we could see sunlight through that roof.  Here are pictures of Jake learning to remove nails and shingles with a flat shovel, and John instructing and sweeping the roof so as to not leave anything on it that might be slippery.

July 29, 2019

Well, we have done lots of work on the house mostly.  We have removed siding, insulated, sheathed, housewrapped, and put on vinyl siding, changed out windows, door, and electrical.  We called Duke Energy and they (yes the same ones that told us we could get electricity if we were not required to permit) told us they could not give us electricity unless we get the county to inspect it and put an orange sticker on the box.    According to our reading of the codes, if we bought it, were doing all the work, were not adding any heated or cooled square footage, we should not have to permit it.  However, we needed electricity so we got a permit.  Then the guy who was standing in for the regular inspector came out and told us he would not sign off on our electrical because we also needed a building permit, plumbing and hvac permit and a more expensive electrical permit.  What do you do?  We went and got the other permits. . .Now we have lots of inspectors to satisfy. . .But life is still good. 

June 25, 2019

Ok, so I have been inactive on my posts.  The reason for this is, that temporarily our lives have been less about farming than about finding my daughter and son-in-law an affordable place to live.  The problem is, banks don't want to loan money on fixer uppers, and they would prefer not to loan less than $60,000.  Well, when they tell you that you can't really afford a mortgage more than $43,000, what is a person to do?  Thankfully, these two have us who are willing to temporarily help them find an affordable place and fix it up in a way the bank will accept it.  So we did just that.  We found a fixer upper we could buy affordably and are trying to stick to a budget of $10,000 to fix it up, which of course means that we don't get to hire anyone to do any work. . .Here is what we found in a small town near us, but closer to our son-in-law's job:



Master bedroom

Second possible bedroom

Second view of the one bathroom

Friday, May 31, 2019

May 31, 2019

We are gearing up for a workshop to be held here on the farm.  David House is coming here on June 15th to present a workshop on biogas digesters.  The first part will be on a less expensive plastic bag digester, then on the Cube digester.  We are excited and anxious as we have not done a workshop here before.  There are still a few spots left, and you can learn more about it here.

Garlic Chives
I am still working at Edge of the World Farm, and have learned many things about herbs and their uses, and still more about weeding.  I wonder if any going into herbs or farms have thought about what percentage of their day would be spent on weeding?  I have learned a whole new level of weeding.  Because there are so many medicinal herbs that volunteer in odd places or wild medicinals, I have learned to only pull weeds that I have been told to pull and if anything looks different, ask first.  This, of course, makes weeding a much longer job, but precious plants are saved.  Henrietta and Erin are very precise in their care of the plants, as well as the medicinals they make.  Careful cleaning, weighing, harvesting, glassware washing etc.  has impressed me so much, they have probably made me into a fan for life.  I have personally enjoyed their tinctures.  I enjoy purslane on almost a daily basis to help face the heat of the day, and eleuthero for energy, as well as in the adrenal support tincture.  I highly recommend their products as they are constantly striving to put out the best tinctures possible for their customers.  My personal garden has also grown since I have been working there.  My kitchen garden now has some garlic chives that were extra, and our regular garden now has some hibiscus that I can use to make tea.  They have inspired me to dry some of my own fennel for teas, as well as lemon balm for a calming tea, which was something I kept saying I was going to get around to, but didn't before now.  I have brought away so many positive things and one negative item.  By the time I get back to our farm, I am a bit tired of weeding. . .

Progress in the Garden
Our garden is in progress.  My russett potato experiment did not work though.  Not a single potato came up.  However, the sweet potatoes I bought from the grocery store are finally producing slips.  It has been so hot and dry this last couple of weeks, we are now back to wishing for rain.  Can you believe it?  My husband is doing such a good job of tilling in between the rows and we are both trying to get to the remaining weeds.  The one plant that seemed to germinate well from the seeds we purchased was beets.  Looks like it is going to be a bumper crop this year.

Front of House
Back of House
We are looking forward to another huge summer project this year.  We are buying a small fixer upper house to get into shape for our daughter and her husband.  They will buy it back from us as soon as it is in good enough shape that the bank will actually make a loan on it.  It will be quite a challenge, but we are excited about it and the fact that they will be living not too far away so we will be able to enjoy our coming first grandchild, who will be a boy:  Elijah Matthew Turner.  Can't wait!  This is one of the few ways we could help them find affordable housing in a good neighborhood.

The Incredible Serenity View
Manning the Grill
We had a new experience this year.  For our 38th wedding anniversary, we celebrated by renting a yurt for the night.  It was in a very peaceful area and the view from the back deck was worth it alone.  We found it on Airbnb.  The Yurt at Frog Pond Farm.  My husband did a great job getting us packed and cooking dinner for us.  Not only did I enjoy it, but also one of their dogs named Gerret enjoyed the scraps from the steaks.  He was a quiet but personable fellow and companion.  When he was done with us, he quietly got up and walked into the back door of the yurt and out of the front to go to his other home.  LOL.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 17, 2019

Friends sometimes come in seemingly strange packages.  For example, the black cat we adopted, Merlin, thinks he is a dog, and our dogs are letting him. . .Especially Phoenix, one of our border collies.  Our other border collie, Hercules, takes this too with the same air of complacency that he handles much of everything else, except intruders.

What's left of the leaf pile
Tilled into our potato row
Speaking of friends, it is so nice to have friends that have different equipment than you do.  Thanks so much to our friend Bill with the front end loader who moved a dump truck full of leaves to the garden for our potatoes.  Bill sometimes borrows our tiller, and he loves an occasional taste of my husband's beer.  It is so nice to have such good neighbors.

As far as the garden is concerned, it has rained so much here, we have only managed to find a small window so far to plant the potatoes, beets and corn.  The beets are coming up already.  The potatoes we ordered never arrived, so this year we tried cutting the potatoes from the grocery store.  Wish us luck!  The sweet potatoes are from the grocery store as well.  We are trying to make slips and have them in our usual containers with water.  We have roots that have formed so far, so fingers crossed . .

After buying a new golf cart, we fixed up our old one to get it ready to sell.  We found out one battery was bad and replaced it.  We also reupholstered the seats to make it look nice.  We advertised it on Craigslist, but to be honest, we are not trying all that hard to sell it.  No time to work on that at the moment.

One of the reasons I have less time is I have started working at Edge of the World herb farm.  I have always wanted to learn about the medicinal property of herbs, and now is my chance, thanks to Henrietta and Erin Cummings.  They are great to work for and I am learning alot about plants, some that I used to just think were weeds. . .It is on the account of weeding that I developed my new set of overalls.  They were made out of a pair of scrub pants and coordinating shirt that I bought at the thrift store for $3.50.  I padded the knees with an old towel.  Funnily enough, the first place I wore them was to church to do the Palm Sunday children's moment.  You see, it was all about the donkey.  I gave out cookies that looked like chicks.

Last, but certainly not least, I am so proud of my son-in-law for getting a job recently as a security officer to support his growing family.  Congratulations Leah and Jacob!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March 20, 2019

Today was quite a day in the life of homesteading.  It started with retrieving a blue bird from our wood stove pipe.  The tulle leftover from my daughter's wedding has been used to catch birds three times.  Before, a bird would get completely down to the firebox.  This time, we had to raise the flue, as he had kicked down dust and creosote that blocked his way into the firebox.  He was quite happy to fly away once I carried him outside.

Of course there were usual chores such as making sure my husband had a lunch and to go breakfast, dishes, laundry, and mopping the floors along with all the extra dishes from rendering the pig fat.  I rendered the leaf fat inside and the back fat outside.  I don't think the heat was low enough on the fish fryer, even though I turned the propane as low as possible.  To lessen the time/electricity used/propane used, I first cut the fat into strips, then ran it through the food processor.  It only took about an hour to render.  It wasn't the best way if you really want cracklins, but we didn't care, so I gave all the little left over pieces to the chickens.  I got about two pints of rendered leaf fat (for cooking), and enough rendered back fat for about a batch and a half of soap, so I was happy.  Then there was the continuation of the work on the smokehouse for smoking the bacon and hams once they are finished with the salting process.

Today I dug out and poured the concrete base for the fire pit.  That was quite the adventure.  Once I finished digging and leveling the area I wanted to pour the concrete, I mixed one 80 pound bag of concrete at the time.  With the first one, when I started stirring the concrete mix with water, the axle came out of the wheel on the wheelbarrow.  I had to haul it to the hole to dump it in (without a working wheel) before I frantically had to fix the wheelbarrow before the concrete set up.  I ended up needing only two bags of concrete for this space.

Once I finished that, I went to put up the wrenches in the tool kit, and I made the mistake of closing the wrong side, so all the sockets rolled out and went behind the workbench.  Then I had to crawl on my belly and use the broom to try to get them recovered.  I somehow tore my jeans in the process.

The two pigs that we grew (Red and Freckles) grew well.  One was 406 pounds at processing time, and one was 377 pounds.  Our freezer is overflowing with the beef and pork, and we ended up borrowing freezer space from a neighbor.  I wish I could pull out some pictures, but my computer crashed.  We didn't have any trouble getting them to go into the horsetrailer for transport.  We just started feeding them several days ahead in the horse trailer.

Still, life is good.

March 18, 2019

So this last six weeks, I had volunteered to help someone re-design a 23 foot rv as a temporary living space.  I came up with lots of new ideas and used some old ones from Pinterest.  I learned alot, stretched a lot, and figured out that while I might want to redesign another RV, I would prefer to do it on my own.  I may want to buy one, redesign it, and then sell it.  That way, there are no misunderstandings about who is to do what when, and no waiting time when someone else's schedule get's busy and they can't do the part that your part is dependent on.

At any rate, a flaw for living in an RV, is that they are really not designed to be lived in, they are designed to stack as many sleeping spaces in as possible.  When you are planning a living space, you want to go back in and take out the extra sleeping spaces and other spaces that are not needed, and put back in those that are desperately needed.  In this RV, we took out some partial walls in a very tight bedroom space, a dinette that jutted way out into the middle space, a huge closet, the water tank, and a bunk area.  We added a table/bar, a huge storage area, a pantry, a new closet, and added about 10 inches to the bathroom.  While the RV is not quite finished at this point, much of the design part is complete.

First the storage wall was placed to take advantage of an oddly angled wall, and the outside storage was made into inside storage.  It is just behind the futon that will serve as a couch and a bed, that has storage drawers below it (not visible in the picture.  The storage wall will serve as a table for your coffee cup or whatever, and also has a hinged lid.  Trash cans will fit in it nicely to categorize the storage.

Secondly, the dinette table that took up too much space and was too short to be a bed for adults, really, was taken out and replaced with a bar top table which folds down into a longer single bed (using the old dinette cushions the long way end to end, which are stored inside.)  As you can see, it has not been painted (white at the bottom), nor the table top stained and polyurethaned.  Final decisions are still pending about the light.

Thirdly, a pantry area was put in over the wheel well which will house the fuse box at the bottom.  At this point, the edge trim has not been added, nor has it been painted white.  At 16" deep, there will be plenty of storage for food, or whatever else needs storing.  You can also see in this picture the book shelf that has been secured over the bar table.

The only place to hang a picture was the bathroom door, and since the color scheme was peacock accent colors, I painted a picture of a peacock on an old canvas that I bought for .99

10 inches was added to the bathroom, because when you walked in before, you would run into the toilet.  enough space was added to scoot back the composting toilet and a sink cabinet was re-designed and will have a sink made from a stainless steel bowl.  At this time, the sink is waiting for the plumbing to be installed so it can be completed.  I used the old plastic medicine cabinet mirror to make a new medicine cabinet that even comes with a shelf to store extra toilet paper.  A bucket was hung on the wall made from a laundry detergent bucket with marble contact paper.  This will house composting medium.  A matching bucket will be placed on the floor for bathroom trash.  Also, as you can see in the mirror, a metal wall basket was painted and installed as a towel storage space.

Lastly, a new closet space was added in with hanging bar, baskets, and it will have two shelves, one of which will be over the new hot water heater.

The kitchen area, was left as it was, with just a coat of white paint to open out the space.

What is left is a much more functional space for temporary living.